As Lecce head to Milan’s Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday for their first match back in the top flight for two years, new signing Ernesto Chevantón used the first press conference after his much-publicised return to the Club to explain why he could not resist another chance to delight the i Giallorossi fans at the Via del Mare.
Sat alongside beaming President Pierandrea Semeraro, the little Uruguayan explained: “It has been six years since I left the Club and now it feels like I have returned home. I feel like a Salentino – my blood may be Uruguayan but my heart is that of a Leccese. I thank the President and Coach Luigi De Canio for allowing me to return here, and I will work hard and with humility and give my all for this Club.”
The question was then raised about his fitness and if he thought that he could make the starting XI for Sunday’s opener. Chevantón replied: “I worked hard at the start of pre-season with Sevilla but recently I have been training alone. I feel good physically and ready for a tough season.”
Fellow striker Daniele Corvia also had some encouraging words for his new colleague. On the Club’s Official Website, last season’s star goalscorer commented: “It will not be a problem for myself and Ernesto to play together. We have different characteristics and that will suit our style perfectly.”
De Canio will have been mulling over whether to start with his new strike partnership in Sunday’s opener, but the decision may have already been made for him as Chevantón pulled up in training on Wednesday with a slight muscle sprain. The squad has been put through its paces since last Sunday’s defeat against Valencia with double training sessions. Apart from Chevantón, the rest of the players seem to have come through unscathed to leave De Canio with pretty much a full-strength squad at his disposal, though unfortunately for the Matera-born tactician, Ruben Olivera is unavailable through suspension.
The Coach was further boosted by the news Simone Sini will be available. The young defender on loan from Roma received a call-up for the national team’s Under-19s but has been given clearance to join up with his teammates ahead of the big kick-off.
However, one notable absentee from the final preparations was defender Raffaele Schiavi, whose desire to leave the Club had resulted in him being whistled by supporters at last weekend’s presentation match. The Club announced on Wednesday that Schiavi had been loaned to Vicenza until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent deal next summer.
Schiavi may yet be replaced in time for the start of the season. Lecce’s Sporting Director Claudio Fenucci has flown out to Copenhagen to finalise a deal to bring Rosenberg defender Mikael Lustig to the Via del Mare. The 24-year-old Swedish defender looks set to complete his move in the next 24 hours and will be another important addition to De Canio’s squad.
The 11 that take to the field on Sunday could contain at least seven new signings. Playing in a 4-3-3 formation, goalkeeper Antonio Rosati may have four new faces in front of him in a revamped back-line. Full-backs Giulio Donati and Davide Brivio could be joined by the centre-half pairing of Tore Reginiussen and Franchin Gustavo. In midfield, captain Giullermo Giacomazzi and Gianni Munari look set to have the hugely impressive summer signing Carlos Grossmüller for company, while in attack, crowd favourite Daniele Corvia could have new boys Chevantón and Ignacio Piatti alongside him.
De Canio has used pre-season to seek out his favourite formation in a bid to make his team as flexible as possible. Whilst the team on paper looks to be set up as a fairly attack-minded unit, the experienced tactician may opt for a more conventional 4-4-2, with Piatti being asked to support the midfield and stop the supply from Milan’s main playmakers Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldinho.
The last time Lecce visited the Giuseppe Meazza was in April 2009 when Milan ran out 2-0 winners thanks to injury time goals from Pippo Inzaghi and Ronaldinho. De Canio will be hoping that his new-look team can keep its concentration until the full-time whistle this time around.