23 January 2007

UFFICIALE: Ciao, Massimo

It has finally come to pass. After months of rumors, arguing, haggling, and general uproar, Massimo Oddo will don the black and red stripes. The deal was finally struck on Monday night between Lotito and Galliani. The final terms were €7.75M and the full contract of Pasquale Foggia, a compromise that leans just slightly closer to Lazio's high demands than towards Milan's initial offer. Now that it's done, the only controversy remaining is whether it was a good deal. There is no clear answer, and every party to this transaction will discover both pros and cons. A breakdown of just what everyone will get out of it:

Claudio Lotito: €€€€€€
The whole affair was strictly a business deal for the Lazio president. His demands which inched ever higher showed that he was out to milk the transfer for as much cash as Milan could muster. Lotito also knew that it would be very difficult to resign Massimo when his contract was set to expire at the end of next season. Oddo would likely have left on a free transfer, with no monetary benefit to the club. Thus the tradeoff is simple: sacrifice a year-and-a-half of play from the country's best right back for nearly €8M. Oh, plus the full contract of Pasquale Foggia. What of that? As I'll explain later, he is (unfortunately for him!) probably just a pawn in the whole affair.

Delio Rossi: a puzzle
How will Oddo's absence, not to mention the addition of Jimenez from Ternana last week, change the first team lineup that has been working fairly well for Rossi? The match against Milan was an experiment, putting Behrami in the right back spot. I think this will be his permanent spot. Belleri is not up to snuff, and when Jimenez plays he will take up one of the midfield spots that Behrami would occupy otherwise. Delio is a good tactician and will be able to resolve this for certain over the next couple weeks both on the training pitch at Formello and with inevitable experiments in actual matches.

Oddo himself: Europe...for now
The first question regarding Oddo is what sort of playing time he will receive. Cafu has been starting at right back for the rossoneri, and while Massimo is certainly of higher class, the Brazilian cannot be completely benched. It will be interesting to see whether Oddo is considered as a first-half or second-half player in his first few matches. In terms of higher-level competition, Massimo gets his wishes for the moment. Milan is still in Champions League and he will probably see at least some playing time in those matches. Tutto Mercato Web reports that Oddo may see other tournament play even before the next Serie A fixture, when Milan takes on good old Roma Merda this Thursday. But these opportunities could be fleeting. Losses to Celtic or Roma are certainly possible. Then he would have to be looking toward next year. The strange fact, due to the nature of the final Calciopoli punishments, is that Lazio is in slightly better position to reach Champions League for next year (even though they just lost the 4th spot to Empoli this past Sunday). We will have to wait until next season, when everyone (hopefully) starts on level footing to see if this decision was sound.

Pasquale Foggia: uncertainty
Oh boy. I'm sure Pasquale was thrilled to hear that this deal went through. In one respect, it certainly is an ego boost, because it indicates that the rights to his contract is a valuable commodity (up to €10M by some estimations). However, practically, it means that he is just an object to be bought and sold. Foggia has seen extremely little time playing at Lazio (366 minutes over 11 appearances and only 3 starts, which occurred when the midfield was decimated by injuries and suspensions). With the addition of Jimenez, the likelihood that he will take the pitch has only diminished. It's not surprising that Lotito has announced that he will use the remainder of the mercato period to try to loan or sell Foggia. This is of little or no consequence to the performance of the club, and serves merely to increase the cash flow value of the deal. Ci scusi, Pasquale.

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