Ranieri set for Baronio bid
By Ciaran Baynes and Riccardo Burgalassi. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
CHELSEA manager Claudio Ranieri is looking to boost his midfield options by signing countryman Roberto Baronio from Lazio.
The 24-year-old midfielder is currently coming to the end of his season-loan with Fiorentina, where he has been part of the Viola's side who have lost the fight to stave off relegation to Serie B.
The combative midfielder was highly rated as a youngster at Brescia - in the same youth side as Andrea Pirlo - but since moving to Lazio six years ago he has never managed to forge a regular berth for himself in the biancoceleste first team.
His best season came in 1999/2000 whilst on-loan at Reggina when he made 31 appearances and impressed Giovanni Trapattoni sufficiently to earn a call-up to the Azzuri squad for the World Cup qualifier against Hungary August 2000 - although he did not get a game.
Six months later Peter Taylor tried to use the England connection to take him on loan to Leicester City - in Sven Goran Eriksson's last days at Lazio - as a replacement for Neil Lennon but his bid failed.
With another Italian midfielder Sam Dalla Bona likely to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season and last summer's signings Emmanuel Petit and Frank Lampard not having the expected impact in West London this term, Ranieri is likely to look to this area to strengthen his side in the summer and Baronio could be the type of player he is looking for.