He is nicknamed “The Train” and not to put a too fine a point on it, but Senad Lulic is on the fast track to a either a much-improved pay rise at Lazio or a big-money move to Chelsea.
According to figures produced by Italy’s leading sports paper La Gazzetto dello Sport, the 26-year-old currently earns 750,000 euros a year on a contract that runs to 2016, but with the club pushing for a top-three place this season the possibility to take those earnings past the million-euro mark as been in the air.
There is no doubt that the Bosnia and Herzegovina international has all the right characteristics to play in England but he also has what any team no matter where they play need: pace, strength and excellent close control.
Added to that he has the versatility to play at either left-back or further up the left flank which is the position he occupied at club level for most of last season.
Standing at just over 6ft when he gets into his stride there are very few who can keep those marauding runs in check.
However, unlike say Gareth Bale to whom he would draw obvious comparisons, Lulic is predominantly right-footed and in the vacuum-tight spaces of Italian football a lot of his good work can become negated when he is forced to turn inside to deliver a cross on his stronger foot.
He is more dangerous when making a surging diagonal run from the left wing towards to the penalty area where he can get a shot away or play a quick one-two.
Although he may not be a prolific goalscorer - and then again not many in Serie A in wide position are, the bulk of his goals have come in this direct manner – the pick of which came at Cagliari last season as he finished the year with four strikes.
His forceful runs alternated with mazy dribbles are not only an outlet for Lazio going forward but also force the opposition to drop a man back to double up – it was a ploy that has worked to good effect with the arrival of new coach Vladimir Petkovic.
Lulic is beginning to wake up to the fact that his stock has risen and his contract should reflect that.
The fellow Bosnian has started his compatriot at left-back so far and basically given him the freedom to get forward whenever possible which has been the springboard to the side’s excellent start to the campaign which has kept the Biancocelesti into the top three.
The club’s aim are indeed aligned with the player’s and that is playing in the Champions League.
However, having become a mainstay of the exciting Bosnia side that came close to qualifying for Euro 2012 and have since made a positive start to the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, Lulic is beginning to wake up to the fact that his stock has risen and his contract should reflect that.
In the past, club president Claudio Lotito has strong-armed any player whose agent has demanded a salary hike as Cristian Ledesma and Goran Pandev found to their cost a few seasons ago, and Modibo Diakitè is now.
The defender is currently excluded from the first-team squad as his contract talks have been deadlocked, but there is little chance that Lulic, who spent his formative years playing in Switzerland, joining Lazio from Young Boys, attempting to hold the club to ransom.
The problem may arrive if Chelsea coming calling for a replacement for Ashley Cole and “The Train” believes it is time to pull out of the Eternal City but the way things are going there will be no stopping him wherever the flying wideman decides his next destination should be.
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