Lazio captain Lucas Biglia joined AC Milan last week and left a huge hole at the base of the biancocelesti midfield. Biglia had been a superb servant for the club over the last few seasons and was integral to coach Simone Inzaghi’s style of play,, with his passing ability constructing Lazio’s attacking game. To replace him, Lazio have signed Lucas Leiva from Liverpool and will likely add Davide Di Gennaro to their midfield options as well. The long term replacement is already in the squad though, in the form of 20-year-old playmaker Alessandro Murgia.
Murgia is a born and bred Roman and has come through the academy of the club. Inzaghi gave the promising midfielder his Serie A debut in September 2016 and kept him in the squad as Biglia’s understudy throughout the campaign. In the end, Murgia earned four starts in Serie A and made 18 appearances in all competitions.
Murgia has mostly been used as the defensive midfielder in Inzaghi’s midfield triangle, both in the 4-3-3 initially deployed and the 3-5-2 Inzaghi seemed to settle with come the latter stages of the campaign. Murgia’s defensive contribution is evident with strong tackling highlighted by his average of 3.4 tackles won per 90 minutes, as well as a positional intelligence well beyond his age. Murgia reads the game better than most 20-year-olds and used his intelligence to average 1.9 interceptions per 90.
The video shows just two examples of Murgia anticipating passes to regain possession for his team.
Despite his excellent defensive qualities, the main reason Inzaghi trusts Murgia in such a crucial role in his team is his distribution of the ball. Murgia’s outstanding passing ability sees him fulfil the classic Italian role of the regista perfectly. The term translates as director and that is exactly what this young midfielder is. From the base of midfield Murgia can use his ability to pass the ball both long and short, around the opponents or straight through them. He’s comfortable with both feet, but his right foot is sublime. Crucially, he doesn’t hide from getting on the ball, even in tight spaces against big teams like Napoli and Roma when the pressure is truly on.
Murgia’s intelligence his further highlighted by his ability to quickly assess his options before making decisions. He quickly scans the pitch to find the best option available and, as you can see in the video below, he is superb at setting up counterattacks with his passes. This is vital to Inzaghi’s tactics and this ability fits perfectly with attackers like Felipe Anderson, Ciro Immobile and Keita Baldé, who all thrive in attacking transitions.
Standing at 1.85 metres tall, Murgia can also be a threat in an attacking sense and an asset in defence with his aerial ability, both in open play and from set-pieces. Enjoy the two goals below, the first one really is stunning.
Going into the new season, Murgia will battle it out with Lucas Leiva to be Inzaghi’s starting playmaker in midfield. While Lucas will probably be considered first choice to start with, Murgia has the ability to earn the starting birth as he fits perfectly into Inzaghi’s team and the coach already trusts him. Murgia will probably build on his performances from last year and he has the potential to emerge as one of Serie A’s best defensive midfielders in a few years time.
Remember the name.