Lazio must beat Manchester United to the signing of Netherlands defender Stefan De Vrij if they are to challenge for a place in Europe next season.
The Italian club, who finished ninth last season and four points adrift of a spot in the Europa League, are said to be keen to recruit the Feyenoord youngster to bolster their defensive ranks ahead of the forthcoming season.
However after impressing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and being a pivotal part of the side that finished third under Louis van Gaal, his stock has risen prompting his current club to increase their asking price.
The 22-year-old has also been linked with a move to Southampton, with new manager Ronald Koeman weighing up a bid if current rock Dejan Lovren departs for Liverpool in a £20million deal.
Defensive quality needed
Lazio’s current defensive options are not up to scratch and manager Stefano Pioli has moved quick to improve his squad after the shortcomings of last term.
Serbian defender Dusan Basta was amongst three signings made by Pioli, with the 29-year-old signing on from fellow Serie A side Udinese after six fruitful seasons in the top flight.
The Italian side shipped a total of 54 goals last campaign, the worst of the top nine sides in the league, and was a major contributing factor to their ultimately unsuccessful season.
De Vrij standout quality
De Vrij showed in Brazil exactly why he was rousing such interest with a series of outstanding displays for his country.
He found the net during the Netherlands’ shock 5-1 thumping of holders Spain, and was arguably the best player on the pitch during their penalty shoot-out triumph over Costa Rica in the quarter-finals.
The Dutchman also kept Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero at bay when the Oranje met Argentina in the semi-finals, however it was ultimately not enough to see his side through to a World Cup final.
Such performances have said to have scuppered a potential move to Lazio with his relationship with Van Gaal cited as the main reason.
Raising the bid
Lazio’s current offer of £4.7million was easily swatted away by the Feyenoord hierarchy who are only willing to let the player go for the right price.
The Dutch side value him at closer to £10million, a fee Lazio could be unlikely to match given their financially restricted transfer budget.
United on the other hand are in need of reinforcements following the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward admitting the English side boast unlimited funds for Van Gaal to spend as he pleases.