As Lecce prepare to come up against Roma’s Erik Lamela this weekend, it has emerged that they once ignored a recommendation to sign the player.
That is the claim of Pedro Pasculli, who spent seven years across the late 1980s playing for Lecce and was a part of Argentina’s World Cup-winning squad in 1986.
The former Salentini striker has claimed this week that he once recommended Lamela to Lecce’s management before the youngster had broken through at River Plate and before European scouts had heard of his potential.
“About three years ago during a trip to Argentina I noticed the young Lamela at River Plate and his qualities impressed me immediately.
“He was on the first team list at 16 and within a year - at 17 - had made his debut in the Primera Division. There, the boys are thrown immediately into the fray, but he had forged ahead in the youth side and you could see he had talent to burn.
“My first thought was to Lecce to suggest a deal.”
Speaking to Corriere del Mezzogiorno, the 51-year-old former forward revealed the Giallorossi were less than responsive to his suggestion.
“ [I met] with [then] sporting director [Guido] Angelozzi and chief executive Claudio Fenucci. To them I swore of the potential qualities of the boy.
“They listened but did not attach importance to what I had said. They nodded, showed a slight interest, but I quickly realised that they had no intention of following up the matter.
“And at a very low cost of a few hundred thousand dollars.
When asked why he felt the club were reluctant, Pasculli indicated that despite the examples of Mirko Vucinic and Valeri Bojinov, that the club had changed policy with youth development.
“They would have had to go to Argentina to see the boy, initiate negotiations with River, invest in a youngster and obviously they did not feel like it. Since [Vucinic and Bojinov] they have changed their mind.
“Roma paid €17m but they took him when he was already famous within the country. With Lecce he would have cost a lot less.”
Lecce travel to the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday and when asked what will go through his mind should the 19-year-old score against his former team, Pasculli was more upbeat.
“Ah, well, we missed this one. Let’s hope he doesn’t score though.”