The Keita Balde saga continues. Earlier in the summer when reports first emerged, it seemed fairly simple. Keita Balde has one year remaining on his contract, so if Juve wanted him all they would have to do is see if the player wants to leave and come to Juve, and then agree to a discounted fee with the club.
Things haven’t exactly turned out that way. When you factor in that nobody in Italy wants to sell their star players to Juventus - especially on a discount - Lotito and the rest of Lazio’s stubbornness, the interest of other clubs, and so on, it’s actually been quite the complicated ordeal.
The big news yesterday was that Keita skipped out on training. When a player skips out on training and it isn’t injury related, it will tend to cause a few headlines. Keita’s agent, Roberto Calenda, has chosen to speak out about these headlines.
The full interview in Italian with the Gazzetta is located here, but for our English readers I have found a tweet that summarizes most of what he said, translated to English.
Keita Balde's agent, Roberto Calenda, broke his silence with some strong words for Lazio & Lotito. Interview given to Gazzetta. Read it. pic.twitter.com/L1OC8O1y2l— Tarek Khatib (@ADP1113) August 17, 2017
That will probably be tough to read, so if you can’t get to another tab to click the link, I’ll summarize and paraphrase what he said:
- Keita skipped training because he’s upset with Lazio’s recent actions
- Lazio never lived up to their promises - no official contract was offered
- Dialogue with Lazio is difficult
- In June they receieved an informal contract offer but the wages were for an average player, not a star one
- Keita made it clear that he would give 100% for Lazio while under contract and Lazio’s response was to not call him up for the Super Cup - even though he was perfectly ready for the gane
- No form of pressure from the club [presumably to re-sign] will be tolerated
- Despite Lazio’s statements, they never contacted [Calenda or Keita] about the phantom offers that they told the media they recieved
- They were told of Milan’s interest and Lotito told them to find an agreement with the club
- They only knew of Juventus’ offer because it was made public, Lazio told them nothing about that
- Lazio are asking for the moon for a player who will be free to sign with whoever he wants in a few months
- If this continues to happen they will have to explain to fans who they lost a talent like Keita [for free, presumably]
If Keita’s agent is telling the truth, and we have no reason to believe he isn’t, Keita’s treatment at Lazio has been unfair and he has every right to want to leave. As a Juventus fan, Calenda’s public words may just be the catalyst to get a deal done. At this point, it seems extremely unlikely that Keita re-signs, so it seems like our only competition would be from other clubs wanting to sign him either now or in January.
This is pretty bad publicity on Lazio’s end, and hopefully they realize it. This is a huge red-flag for potential incoming talented youngsters, and I hope that at the end of the day they do the right thing and treat Keita like a proper player. I’m not saying they need to accept any offer from Juve or another club, because Keita’s the one that signed a contract until 2018, but freezing him out of the squad because he refuses to extend is a bad move for everyone involved.