Serie B champions Lecce have once again made the jump to Serie A, two years after finishing nineteenth and being relegated. Prior to that they spent two years in Serie B, preceded by three years in Serie A. As you can see, Lecce has made a habit of bouncing up and down the ranks, making every season dramatic for the Giallorossi fans. This season, the club looks to establish a foothold in Serie A, but does the club have the players to do so?
Management: Luigi De Canio is entering his second full year with the club after coming on board late in the 2008-2009 season to try and save the club from relegation. He was unsuccessful and was initially let go, only to re-up with the club a few weeks later. He is known as a “salvation specialist” as he helped Siena and other Italian clubs avoid relegation in the last decade. He is known for getting the most out of young players, and will not be over-matched in Serie A.
Transfer Market: The club’s goal in the transfer market so far has been to acquire players who, even if they lacked a large number of Serie A minutes, have enough top flight experience to add quality minutes to the club. Their best signing then may have been former Juventus midfielder Ruben Olivera. The Uruguayan national has eight Serie A goals in 42 matches, and adds needed talent in the Giallorossi attack.
All told, they have three players on loan from the Serie A Big Three. They were also able to take on loan Schalke 04 defender Tore Reginiussen. The Norwegian, who can also move up to the midfield, was the victim of a numbers game in the Bundesliga club and wanted to play more minutes. He does have eight caps with the Norwegian national club.
Key Players and Formation: A major concern for Lecce fans is the starting keeper Antonio Rosati. The 27 year old has his only Serie A experience with Lecce but has appeared in 37 matches for the club since 2002. Fortunately for him, the defense in front of him has some quality players. Inter loanee Giulio Donati, who was recently called up for Italy’s U-20 match against Hungary, will likely pair with Reginiussen, U-21 and former Fiorentina defender Davide Brivio, and Brazilian Gustavo. If this is the starting backline, then all four starting defenders will be new to the club this year.
Captain Guillermo Giacomazzi anchors the midfield for the Giallorossi. He is the record-holder for more Serie A appearances with the club and has 27 career goals for the Apulia-based team. If Olivera is moved forward then taking his place in midfield will be another Uruguayan and Schalke product Carlos Grossmuller, who has twenty-five career goals. Another midfield option is career Serie B player Gianni Munari or the youngster Andrea Bertolacci. Although 19, the Roma loanee has eleven caps for the various Italian national youth clubs.
Expect Olivera to be moved forward in De Canio’s formation as the lack of quality forwards is a concern heading into the 2010-2011 season. The most talented player is Daniele Corvia, who had seventeen goals for the club last season. His previous season high, however, had been six. Brought in to bolster the attack is Ignacio Piatti, who has experience in Serie A, Ligue 1, Turkey, and Argentina.
Outlook: The combination of a poor attack and a poor keeper leads to relegation, and unless the club addresses these issues in the transfer market I would not expect much from Lecce. There is some talent on this club, however, and they will battle to stay in Serie A the entire year. They have reinforced the squad, but need additional help to achieve salvation once again.