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  09/12/2011: Morning Coffee with... Eivind
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Lazio might not be world famous for developing their own players, but with half of Europe in an economical crisis many predict new times for football as well. UEFA are already doing their part with the Financial Fair Play, and the rule about having four homegrown players in their European competitions has been around for years. Lazio were not able to register any homegrown players from the first team for the Europa League this season and chose to register the Primavera players Alessandro Berardi, Luca Crescenzi, Enrico Zampa and Tommaso Ceccarelli. Only one of them can be considered key players in the current side.

It is obvious Lazio are far behind other teams in this area. When Claudio Lotito took over the club, it was natural for him to make some changes to the budget, but with the economy improving you have to wonder why he does not invest more in the youth section when it can potentially be an affordable way to obtain new players.

Several of Lazio's youth teams are doing exceptionally well at the moment. The biggest issue however is what happens when a player is nearing his 20th birthday and will be too old to play football at junior level. Very few Primavera players in Serie A can go from playing Primavera football at the age of 19 to make a difference in Serie A a year later. Since Serie A is a very competitive league and it is not always easy to give your youngsters a chance with the first team.

This is where loan deals are often made. For a young player, it is all about playing regularly at senior level. Both Serie B and Lega Pro have young players not only maintaining a starting spot, but also dominating in the league. Last season Stephan El Shaarawy impressed so much for Padova that reigning champions AC Milan decided to buy him. This season you have Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli) and Ciro Immobile (Juventus) playing a key part in Zdeněk Zeman's ambitious Pescara.

At Serie B level not many of Lazio's talents have managed to impress over the last few years. The only Lazio youngster currently playing in Serie B is 21-year old striker Ettore Mendicino. After trying his luck at Ascoli last season, Mendicino is now on loan at the newly promoted club Gubbio. The striker has not been able to hold on to a starting spot and has only played 670 minutes this campaign, scoring two goals.

Instead of focusing on Serie B, Claudio Lotito has decided to establish connections in the Lega Pro (formerly Serie C1) league. The team Lotito has decided to put his faith in is US Pergocrema 1932. Currently five Lazio players are trying their luck at the club from Crema, Lombardy. After a disappointing 15th place last season, Pergocrema are now fighting for promotion. Currently they are in 6th place and only two points from the top.

The most promising Lazio loanee at Pergocrema is winger Manuel Ricci. The 21-year old has been a regular starter for the club this season. Nigerian left-back Seyi Adeleke has also played a part in their season so far, with eight matches already and his first goal at senior level. Midfielder Giuseppe Capua has featured in 11 matches as well. Alessandro Di Mario and Alessio Campoli are also at the club, but have not been able to make their mark yet.

Having this relationship with Pergocrema could potentially be massive for Lazio in the future. If Pergocrema could gain promotion to Serie B, Lotito would most likely decide to trust them with his most talented youngsters from the Primavera team. Key players like Ceccarelli and Barreto will turn 20 soon and will be too old for the Primavera next season. Right-back Luis Pedro Cavanda has already played half a season as an overage player with Alberto Bollini's team and will probably be looking for a loan in January already.

Another interesting fact is that Lotito's brother in-law, Marco Mezzaroma has recently taken over Salerno Calcio (formerly Salernitana). Supposedly Lotito is also involved in this project. This summer, the club brought goalkeeper Antony Iannarilli and Marco Lanni from Lazio. After going bankrupt the club is all the way down in Serie D so it is unlikely Lotito will loan out his best players to them until they promote once or twice.

It is clear that these loan deals are the most realistic and best way for young players to develop. The future will reveal if Claudio Lotito made the right move when he chose a cooperation with US Pergocrema.

(Eivind Ytreland)
 
 
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