04 January 2007

The €1.5M Question

A timeline of the Oddo situation, to the present:

19 December: The Offer
Milan makes its first foray, looking ahead to the January transfer window. They want Oddo and they have an offer for Lazio: €6M and Pasquale Foggia's contract. Foggia is currently on loan from Milan through the end of the season, but has seen little playing time and only started when the midfield was depleted by suspensions and injuries. Additionally, since Delio Rossi has converted to the 4-3-1-2 model, Foggia's role as an attacking midfielder has been even further diminished. Naturally, Claudio Lotito was initially not impressed and is even reported to say that he wouldn't part with Oddo for anything less than €20M cash.

23 December: Rossi says he'll stay

Mi auguro di no perche' Massimo Oddo e' un giocatore importante di questa squadra, ma io sono certo che Oddo resterà alla Lazio.

"I predict 'no' [that Oddo will leave] because Massimo Oddo is an important player for this team, and I am certain that Oddo will stay with Lazio."
A bold statement to be sure, but certainly reassuring for Laziali! While Rossi in no way has the final say over the transaction (that is solely up to Oddo and Lotito in the end) he has the most daily contact with Oddo and his word is credible. And it was further corroborated just later that same day...

23 December: Lotito says he's not for sale
Oddo è il terzino della Nazionale, è un campione del mondo e la migliore ala destra: oggi è un capitale, oltre che il capitano, della Lazio. Oddo non è mai stato messo in vendita anche se è vero che noi non teniamo nessuno con le catene.

"Oddo is the [right] back of the National team, he is a world champion and the best right wing: currently he is an asset to Lazio beyond the fact that he is captain. Oddo was never put up for sale even though it's true that we don't hold anybody in chains."
In one respect this is very good news and is consistent with Lotito's statements during the summer trade window. Lotito is not trying to sell Oddo or bargain with his contract. There is only one way that Oddo could leave. 1. Oddo actively wants to depart. 2. The price is right. Point 1 has always been in at least some doubt, and point 2 is clearly false...

27 December: The offer isn't enough
Let the haggling begin. The counter offer comes: €7.5M plus Foggia, in other words an additional €1.5M over Milan's inital figure. According to Tutto Mercato Web, Milan values Foggia's contract at between 3 and 4 million euro. Lotito obviously values him at less, and wants the extra cash for the deal. By either's reckoning the price for Oddo should be somewhere between 9 and 10 million euro in cash and contracts combined.

28 December: How to fill the hole?
Lotito indicates that if Oddo does in fact leave he will seek to sign right back Marco Motta for a loan deal. Motta is currently co-owned by Atalanta and Udinese and stands on the Udinese roster. With 29-year-old Damiano Zenoni regularly starting at right back for the friulani, they would be happy to unload Motta for some extra cash. Motta is only 20 years old and has the potential to power the right wing in a fashion similar to Oddo.

29 December: Rossi isn't so sure any more
Disconcerting news creeps in when Delio Rossi holds another radio interview:
Andremo avanti anche senza. Mi auguro che lui riesca a rimanere in questa squadra perchè sono convinto che abbiamo un futuro. Ma credo che trattenere un giocatore che ha espresso la propria volontà di andarsene sia controproducente. Molte volte l'orgoglio va oltre il discorso economico. Almeno, questo è il mio modo di ragionare.

"We will go forward even without [Oddo]. I predict that he will manage to stay with this team because I am convinced that we have a future. But I believe that to hang on to a player who has expressed his own wish to leave is counterproductive. Many times pride [for one's team] has surpassed monetary maters. At least, this is my way of thinking."
The prediction is the same, but there is a tone of doubt in Rossi's statement. Of course it is not only reasonable but necessary for him, as coach, to prepare for the possibility that he may have to play the second half of the season without a key player. Delio also shows his Lazialità.

1 January: There's still time...
Milan's Carlo Ancelotti is just as confident as Rossi, in the opposite direction:
C'è tempo fino al 31 gennaio. Mi aspettavo di partire senza di lui ma tra me e la società è tutto molto chiaro.

"There is time before 31 January. I expect to start [the second half of the season] without [Oddo] but between myself and the team it is all very clear."
Confidence to be sure, but are they empty words? Only Oddo and Lotito can tell us for sure...

3 January: Oddo speaks
...and one of them did. Massimo Oddo has said on Rome's Radio 6:
Penso sia inutile nascondersi e negare l’evidenza per questo vi dico che c’è un’offerta importante del Milan nei miei confronti che mette in dubbio il mio futuro alla Lazio. In ogni caso bisognerà trovare una soluzione che vada bene sia a me che alla società.

"I think it would be useless to cover up and deny the evidence for this. I say that there is an important offer from Milan on the table for me, which puts my future at Lazio in doubt. In any case we will need to find a solution that works well for both me and the team."
This is the worst news. Confirmation from Oddo himself that he expects to leave. Nevertheless it must be a difficult decision for him. Over the summer he stated that his primary reason for wanting to play at Milan was so he could play in Champions League. Halfway through the season, with the rossoneri in the 12th spot of the classifica, a move to Milan would only guarantee Massimo two Champions League matches over the next season and a half. Regardless, the money could be lure enough. Milan has promised him €7.5M over three years, compared to about €1.5M that he would receive through 2008 with Lazio. Truth be told, this would be the best time for Oddo to be a little shrewd and bargain with Lotito. The money could take him away from Lazio to an uncertain future (at least in the short run) with Milan. Now Massimo can put his own offer on the table: a contract extension and pay raise with Lazio that will get him the best of both worlds. Unless he really just prefers black and red stripes.

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