Last season’s Serie B champions return to the top flight after a two year absence with just one ambition, survival. Coach Luigi De Canio has been given the chance to try to cement the club’s position in Italy’s elite division.
Last season: The Giallorossi secured a return to Serie A by clinching the Serie B title by just one point. Strong home form saw De Canio’s men crawl over the finishing line when at one stage it looked like they would run away with top spot, striker Daniele Corvia’s 17 goals proving invaluable.
2010 summer transfer campaign: A shortage of transfer funds available to De Canio means the club will rely heavily on loan signings. Malian international Souleymane Diamoutene has been prized away from bitter rivals Bari, whilst the midfield has been bolstered by the addition of Uruguayan Carlos Grossmüller from Schalke. Guido Marilungo, one of Italy’s most exciting young strikers, has returned to Sampdoria after a season’s loan at the Via Del Mare but De Canio remains confident he can bring the youngster back for the forthcoming campaign. The Salentini have a good nucleus of home grown talent with 14 of the first team squad hailing from the peninsula and De Canio will stay loyal to the squad that got them into the top flight.
The Coach: Luigi De Canio is about to embark on his 22nd season in club management most of which has been spent in the peninsula’s lower echelons. Many UK observers will remember his season’s tenure at the helm of Queens Park Rangers but his greatest achievements apart from clinching promotion with his current employers has been helping to resurrect sleeping giants Genoa and Napoli in the early part of this century.
Anchorman: The club’s talisman is captain Guillermo Giacomazzi, De Canio’s lieutenant in the middle of the park. When things started falling apart towards the end of last season, the Uruguayan led by example to propel the club into the top tier of Italian football. His experience will be invaluable in Serie A.
Playmaker: Striker Daniele Corvia is the fans’ favourite and his 17 goals last term were a decisive factor in the club’s promotion. Playing as a lone striker in De Canio’s 4-3-2-1 system, the Roman born hit-man will look to replicate that form in Italy’s top flight and enhance his love affair with the tifosi at the Via Del Mare.
Hot Prospect: Davide Brivio returns to Lecce after loan spells at Genoa and Vicenza. The 22-year-old left-back will look to secure a regular starting berth in De Canio’s side after gaining valuable first-team experience and a call up to the national Under-21 side.
2010/11 prediction: Any position higher than 18th will be seen as a successful campaign for the Southerners. New president Pierandrea Semerano will give De Canio all the support he needs to keep the club in the top flight. It will be vital for the club to maintain strong home form if they are to achieve their goal. De Canio will try to work his magic in the transfer market and bring in more loan signings to strengthen the squad but even the most realistic Lecce supporter is under no illusion about the size of the task to keep the team in the peninsula’s premier division.
Football Italiano’s prediction: 17th