Patrick Dorgu: Lecce’s Next Big Sale?

Club: Lecce
Nationality: Denmark
Position(s): LB, LWB, LM
Preferred Foot: Left
Height: 6’2”/187cm
Age: 19
Strengths: physicality, dribbling, press resistance, 1v1s,
Areas for Development: decision making, weak foot usage & ability


After narrowly staving off the drop in their return to Serie A, Lecce were heavily favored to go down following a summer that saw them part ways with manager Marco Baroni and lose various key players, including captain Morten Hjulmand, who joined Sporting for a club-record transfer haul of €18 million. Instead, the Salentini are on pace to stay up, with Luca Gotti’s side currently sitting 13th in the table, four points above the drop.


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One player who has proven vital in their survival efforts is Patrick Chinazaekpere Dorgu. Born in Denmark to Nigerian parents, Dorgu made his way up the ranks for club and country, developing at FC Nordsjælland’s academy and playing for Denmark from the U-18 level all the way to the U-21 level. Dorgu left for Italy in the summer of 2022, impressing with the U-19s and quickly earning a contract extension through 2027.


He was promoted to the first team ahead of the season, making his debut on August 13, 2023 in a Coppa Italia match vs. Como, and he hasn’t looked back since then, making 25 appearances across all competitions and opening his account on February 2 with a 92nd-minute winner against Fiorentina. Whilst he has been forced to battle for a starting spot with the 24-year-old left back Antonino Gallo, Dorgu has appeared in all but six league matches this season for Lecce, with two of those absences resulting from injury/suspension.


The left back oozes calmness and composure when on the ball, a modern fullback in every sense with a technically refined, physically developed and versatile profile that could very well result in him earning a move to one of Europe’s top clubs. He has taken to Serie A like a duck to water, impressing in his first-ever season of senior football and playing a key role in Lecce steering clear of the drop so far.


A dynamic left back who loves to carry the ball up the pitch, cut inside and combine with forwards, and who has the agility to maneuver his way through tight spaces, Dorgu’s dribbling ability is top-drawer and it could very well see him operate as a wing-back or even as a winger in the near future. He is a press-resistant footballer who weaves in and out of challenges with ease, and yet another asset that makes him a superb ball-carrier is his physicality.


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This physical prowess has made him not just a dangerous threat on the ball, but off it. He can seem like a brick wall in defense at times with his bulky frame, a superb duel-winner who holds his own in 1v1 duels and who has the pace and power to bully his opposing winger. When defending 1v1s, he positions his body to show the winger outside towards the byline, where he can use his pace to beat them and recover the ball, and utilize his upper body strength to muscle them off the ball.


Dorgu makes his presence known and remains close to the opposing attackers, boasting impressive body orientation and hip positioning which enables him to monitor his winger whilst not overcommitting. He’s able to close the gap quickly and reduce the angles that his opposing man has to dribble, pass or get a shot off. He will hold his ground, stand firm and force the right-sided forward into making a decision.


One area where Dorgu needs to improve is his weak-foot ability and usage. He’s heavily reliant on his left foot — working on this aspect will unlock new levels of press resistance and allow him to be a two-way threat in his ball carrying. Moreover, Dorgu can be overconfident in possession and carry the ball too far instead of dishing off the pass, but his decision-making and footballing IQ will only improve with time and experience and enable him to be less prone to giving the ball away.


Inverted fullbacks are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in today’s footballing landscape, and there’s reason to believe that Dorgu can become one of the top inverted fullbacks in the game. He has the perfect blend of technical ability on the ball, enable him to drop into central areas whilst also not neglecting his defensive duties. In contrast to other inverted fullbacks like Oleksandr Zinchenko, João Cancelo and Trent Alexander-Arnold, defending is far from Dorgu’s Achilles heel.


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Over the past few years, we’ve seen various young fullbacks of Nigerian descent deliver breakout campaigns in Serie A: Destiny Udogie (21) excelled at Udinese before earning a move to Tottenham, whilst Michael Kayode (19) has emerged as a regular in Fiorentina’s defense this season. Whilst Kayode looks poised to join Udogie in the Azzurri setup, Dorgu seems likely to reject the Super Eagles in favor of Denmark.


It remains to be seen whether or not Kasper Hjulmand will hand him a maiden call-up and include him in the Denmark squad for the upcoming European Championships in Germany, but at 19 years of age, Patrick Dorgu looks primed for a successful career at club and international level. He hasn’t yet completed his first season in senior football, but he is already attracting interest from some of the top sides on the continent, and it seems a matter of when not if Dorgu leaves the Stadio Via del mare for greener pastures.


By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Stefano Guidi / Getty Images