The Macedonian international had played for Lazio since 2004 and had been a key performer for the Roman club, amassing a total of 60 goals in 177 appearances through the 2008-09 season--a season in which they won the Coppa Italia. But over the summer of 2009, with Pandev entering the last year of his contract, club and player drifted apart over Pandev's demands for a wage increase. When Lazio refused to accede to his demands, Pandev asked for a transfer.
The request incensed Lotito, who referred to the forward as a "rebel" and set a transfer fee at the improbably high amount of €19M. Zenit St. Petersburg approached the club with an offer for €13M, but could not reach an agreement. Meanwhile, Lazio refused to play Pandev and, at times, forced him to train on his own.
With the stalemate showing no signs of resolution, Pandev turned to the Italian league's governing body, Lega Calcio, claiming that Lazio's treatment was a breach of contract. The body agreed and, in their December order, commanded the club to release Pandev and pay him punitive damages. Lotito vowed to appeal, telling the press "I can only say that this doesn't end here."
It did end there, however, as Pandev signed with Inter just over two weeks later.