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No more tuxedos for Toon

The Toe Poke

Harsh lesson for Neil and Norwich

By ESPN Staff

Lazio chief Lotito vows to keep star strikers

Lazio president Claudio Lotito has assured fans the club will secure the futures of star players Mauro Zarate and Goran Pandev in the near future.

The duo - who both scored in the 4-2 win over Roma in the Eternal City derby at the weekend - have been attracting interest from other clubs with neither attached to Lazio on secure contracts.

Zarate is currently on loan from Qatar League side Al Saad, while Pandev's deal with the Rome-based outfit is set to expire in 2010.

Lazio have until April 30 to make a decision on whether they wish to make Zarate's stay a permanent one.

And in a week where Lotito has bemoaned the previous exit of youngster Federico Macheda to Manchester United, the president was insistent that he would not allow the same thing to happen with his latest batch of stars.

"The timetable (of the deal) is decided by the president. I'll be back on April 20 and there is already a timescale in place to close the deal with Al Saad," Lotito said.

"I'm in a position to close the deal at any minute. The April 30 deadline is not our last chance to close the deal.

"I've never said I wouldn't sign Zarate, but the market opens on July 1.

"We have a deal with Al Saad, I'm calm about the matter because Lazio are in a position to be able to sign him from a technical/legal point of view."

On the matter of Pandev meanwhile, Lotito insisted the club would work hard to renew the 25-year-old's contract.

"We want to renew his contract at all costs. I hope there is a sense of responsibility felt by both parties," he continued.

"This club has a real future, because now we are finally sorting out our problems."


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