Widely tipped for a relegation battle, Lecce enjoyed a strong start to the 2023/24 campaign under new manager Roberto D’Aversa that saw them go unbeaten in their first five matches, with a 1-0 home win against Genoa on September 22 seeing them rise to fourth in the standings. Since then, they’ve won just two league matches — a 2-1 home win against Frosinone on December 16 and a 3-2 win against Fiorentina on February 2, with Roberto Piccoli equalizing in the 90th minute and Patrick Dorgu restoring their lead in the 92nd minute.
Born in Denmark to Nigerian parents, Patrick Chinazaekpere Dorgu has played for Denmark at the U-18, U-19, U-20 and U-21 level, and at this rate, it may not be long before Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand decides to give him a call-up to the senior team. After developing at FC Nordsjælland’s academy, Dorgu made the move to Italy in 2022, spending a year with on loan at Lecce’s Primavera side, where he impressed at left back with 4 goals in 38 appearances, playing a pivotal role as Lecce took home the Primavera 1 title after finishing first in the league with 65 points in 34 matches.
The top four sides Lecce, Torino, Fiorentina and Sassuolo went to a playoff round, with Lecce prevailing 1-0 against Fiorentina in the final via an extra time goal from Emin Hasic. Dorgu’s stellar performances convinced Lecce Director of Football Pantaleo Corvino to complete a permanent deal for £200,000, with the teenager making his Serie A debut on opening day in a comeback 2-1 home win against Lazio. This came just a week after making his first-team debut and grabbing an assist in a 1-0 win vs. Como in the Coppa Italia.
It has been a promising debut campaign in Serie A for Dorgu, who has logged 20 appearances, playing the full 90 minutes against Juventus, Milan and Bologna, but his fortunes have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks with his last start coming on December 11. D’Aversa has preferred Antonino Gallo at the left back position as of late, with Dorgu coming on at halftime in their recent match but nevertheless unable to inspire a turnaround. Riccardo Orsolini completed his brace after the interval, whilst substitute Jens Odgaard sealed a 4-0 win for Bologna.
Having taken just four points from their last eight matches, Lecce sit 13th in the table, five points above the drop, and they’ll be looking to bounce back on Friday at Torino. Whether as a substitute or as a starter, expect Dorgu to have a major role to play as Lecce look to stave off relegation. A physically imposing defender who’s capable of bombing up and down the left flank, dribbling past his opponent and whipping in a teasing cross, as well as reading the game and snuffing out danger, there’s a reason why the likes of Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester City are putting out feelers for the 19-year-old.
With a contract until 2027, Corvino and D’Aversa will be confident in their ability to keep hold of the teenage talent for the foreseeable future. However, if he can continue his upward momentum at the Stadio Via del mare, it may only be a matter of time before Dorgu becomes the latest Lecce player to depart for a sizable profit after Morten Hjulmand’s €18 million move to Sporting last summer.
By: Scot Munroe / @scot_munroe
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Stefano Guidi / Getty Images