Rick D’Andrea

As the silly transfer season gets set to return in January, rumours have begun floating around as to which team will buy which player, and for how much. Exorbitant figures are thrown about, and people are brought in to fill certain roles. It is a rarity that a player manipulates a club’s hand, forcing them to transfer him, with the risk of losing a lucrative loyalty fee.

But that is the situation with Lazio forward Goran Pandev. During the past summer transfer season, the 26-year-old was seeking a move away from the Italian capital. As Lazio president Claudio Lotito wanted to keep his talented forward in Biancoceleste colours, he refused to negotiate with any team.

Pandev only had one more year to go on his current contract with Lazio, and was refusing to sign an extension. Instead, the striker wanted a new challenge, to further his career, and have a chance of winning some important silverware. His services were sought after beyond Italy, as Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Bayern Munich expressed an interest. Italian giants Inter and Juventus were also willing to part with millions of Euros to secure the Macedonian international, but the Aquile CEO would not budge, as an offer in excess of €19M was not made by any of these clubs.

The refusal to sign the new deal saw Pandev labelled a rebel, and since his dissidence, the Macedonian has not seen any game-time for Lazio, with much of the discussion surrounding him being mostly about where he will play his first game either next season, or in January. The Nerazzurri and Bianconeri seem to still be front-runners in the race to acquire his signature, but Milan and Napoli have also been closely monitoring the situation.

So, why would so many of the giants of Serie A be interested in a player like Goran Pandev?

Champions Inter are in the precarious position, and despite being league leaders will lose superstar striker Samuel Eto’o to Cameroon for the African Cup of Nations in January. Mario Balotelli and Diego Milito would be the ideal substitutes for the former Barcelona player, but Pandev could add the finishing touch to an already superior front-line. His creativity, coupled with phenomenal finishing would serve the Beneamata well, and keep their points-buffer over the rest of the league intact.

With more than adequate service from the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Dejan Stankovic, Pandev could find himself being a part of an invincible trident should he decide to play the trequartista role. This would give more attacking options to an already potent team of superstars.

Over at rivals Juventus, it is no secret that the club are in the market for a new striker to replace ageing legends David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero. The Frenchman has stated that this will be his last season in Bianconeri colours, due to wanting to return home, and Del Piero has unfortunately been injured so far this campaign, seeing only 10 minutes out of a possible 16 (including Champions League) matches.

Pandev would serve as an adequate replacement, as he is known for his goalscoring ability – that Trezeguet brings – and his creative ability – a la Del Piero. La Vecchia Signora would be killing two birds with one Lazio stone.

With a possible link up with Vincenzo Iaquinta or Amauri, the Zebras would have the height, speed and finishing power to compete with the Nerazzurri, and challenge them all the way for the Scudetto. It would also rival some of the best striking combinations of all-time, which have merged height with speed, and agility with power.

At the start of the summer, Milan brought in Real Madrid’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to boost their attacking options. Little has been shown by the Dutchman so far this season though, which has prompted another look at the transfer market. But it isn’t because Huntelaar hasn’t produced the goods that the Diavoli are thinking about the Macedonia star.

Fillipo Inzaghi has reached the ripe old age of 36, and cannot continually score, let alone make the ‘onside’ runs he has been noted for throughout his illustrious career. Marco Borriello has only just come back from injury, after missing the best part of two months, and the Italian will need time to gain match fitness, and his impeccable eye for goal. Ronaldinho – even though he does not play as a striker  – could be served better with another player who can come up the park and take away a defender or two, which is what Pandev does.

One factor which could go against Pandev is the the Diavoli are also showing great interest in Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko – who seems keen on wearing the red and black – as well as entertaining the idea of bringing home Bayern Munich’s Luca Toni before the World Cup in South Africa.

Napoli on the other hand, are perhaps the most unlikely of options for Pandev but, since changing coaches a few weeks ago, have been on the rise. Their attackers are scoring, and getting good service from the midfield. But what is worrying for the Partenopei is that they appear one-dimensional up front. If Fabio Quagliarella or Ezequiel Lavezzi have an off day, the team struggle. Often, Napoli then rely on Marek Hamsik and Jesus Datolo to get them out of difficult situations.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis would love to see that problem rectified by the introduction of Pandev, who is just as capable on the ground, as the air. Add to this his ability to attract the ball, as well as push up the pitch in order to get possession, and the Macedonian becomes another midfielder with pin-point accuracy.

Wherever Goran Pandev ultimately goes, he will definitely see more game-time than now. His move will not delight Lazio fans – considering their current state – but will put a wry smile on the Roman Eagles’ bank balance, as they at least receive a fee for someone who has done nothing so far this season. 

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