Atalanta is NOT Leicester City: THEY WERE COMING
The media and consumer on this Atalanta team has always drawn a comparison to the magical Leicester City team that won the Premier League at 5001 odds. Leicester city was the most improbable champion in sports history we will never see what they accomplished ever repeated what they did during that 2014/2015 season was beyond anything any of us has ever witnessed. It was so unique in the story and the journey that they went through to lift the Premier League title. Many people try to compare Leicester City to other teams that overachieve and do improbable things. Atalanta story is very unique but the narrative that this is like Leicester city is completely false. If you were going to compare this team in Bergamo to anything they are closer to RB Leipzig the German side got promoted in three consecutive campaign and has become a title-contending team ever since their promotion to the top of the Bundesliga. Since they have been apart of German Football they have been one of the teams that are constantly chasing the title. But again it’s quite different because Atalanta did not have the money behind them to do what they have done. RB Leipzig has money piercing through them. They have the same ownership as RB Salzburg and the New York Red Bulls. What they ended up doing is unbelievable that does not take away from what they have done but they had a financial advantage to achieve that. It’s really hard to find a comparison to try to reiterate what Atalanta have been able to do. In some ways they’re similar to Blackburn Rovers who won the Premier League title against the odds. However it wasn’t drastically beyond the Realms of possibilities. Blackburn was coming and everybody knew it no one expected them to win the league but no one was really surprised. Gianpaolo Gasparini made and incredibly quick transition to greatness as they have truly started writing a version of their own history from a club that didn’t have much of it. All of these examples have some similarities to Atalanta but doesn’t appropriately represent what they have done. When Gianpaolo Gasparini took over it was an immediate top 5 finish The Following season they finished seventh.. The reason I bring this up is there was a certain expectation and hope that they could continue on their path. Many people believed that when Atalanta finished fourth it was a fluke. The next season of even though they were not as successful they were still with infighting distance of the European places. Atalanta ended up against all the odds finishing above Inter Milan and AC Milan on their way to their greatest ever season that ended with them in the Champions League for the first time in club history it was their greatest campaign something that their fans will remember for a long time. There was a certain surprise element to Atalanta ending up finishing ahead of those two iconic clubs and it was a certain shock because no one really expected that but had they finished in the bottom half of the table you can make an argument that would be even more shocking then their top-three finish. Atalanta was coming they were prepared for everything and they delivered on it. Nobody saw Leicester city coming they finished 14th the previous season they even we’re on the verge of relegation the year before they won the title spending over a hundred days in last place. what the foxes did in the Premier League is so unique you can’t really compare it to anything. Atalanta did shock the world but to a certain extent it wasn’t a surprise. The surprise was more of about where they finished in the league table not that they got Champions League football. They went toe-to-toe with Dortmund in the Europa League the year before a team that typically plays in the Champions League year in and year out. Atalanta had a small budget play in a small stadium in Bergamo. the pitch that they play on isent even authorized for Champions League football. It’s a unique story but that doesn’t change the fact that Atalanta was a team that everyone needed to worry about and they knew this long before they made the Champions League. Leicester city is a great story but it’s not this story. This Juggernaut in Bergamo was coming you could feel it. the stability and consistency we have seen from Atalanta is not something that Leicester city has been able to recreate. Even though the foxes are on pace to finish third this season it is incomparable Atalanta are on pace to make the champions league for the second consecutive season and made the Champions League quarter-finals. They are the League’s highest scoring team for the second consecutive season these guys in Bergamo are just different from anything we’ve ever seen in Italian football. The story line isn’t as captivating as Leicester City but Atlanta are capable are much more the stories are both incredible but there are certain differences there are more things different than similar.
The Turn Over in Talent
One of the most extraordinary things about this team in Bergamo is their ability to continue to improve and get better despite certain circumstances. With a massive budget and resources teams liek Man united have the capabilities of turning things around quite quickly. Man united are in their worst position in decades yet their worst is the Europa League and a top-eight finish even in their lowest moments. They still have the cash to spread around and able to accumulate Talent from some of Europe’s best leagues. Atalanta has not had that luxury they do not have the kind of money that some of these other teams have capable of rebuilding a squad that is deteriorating. There’s been quite a bit of turnover at Atalanta and you would think a team like that losing quality as frequently as they have would damage their reputation and expectations to continue to grow each season. Quite the opposite has actually happened they have seen many players get swooped up and taken from them as the bigger clubs in Italy have captured some the signatures of much of Atalanta’s quality. Bryan Cristante and Gianluca Mancini were really important parts of this team both players eventually ended up at Roma. Franck Kessie found his way to the San Siro on AC Milan. Roberto Gagliardini joined Inter Milan. Leo Spinazzola, Riccardo Orsolini, Andrea Conti, Matthias Caldera so on and so forth there are even more names than the ones I’ve just mentioned. Dejan Kulusevski at Parma they’ve lost so much quality every single season it seems like another quality player from this team ends up going for the exit door and departing. This is what made this run so remarkable. It depends on the situation. A lot of those guys left and became much better players Bryan cristante is the one that comes to mind he has developed himself into one of the best defensive midfielders in Italian football. Others have flopped in their situations but nonetheless it does not matter. They have sold a lot of these guys for large amounts of money. Gianpaolo Gasparini found a way to continue to add quality throughout every season. They haven’t spent the big bucks on players at least not very often. A lot of loan deals and reasonable prices on players has taken place. They have taken players that not a lot of clubs have been looking at or thinking about. This is part of what makes things like this so unbelievably remarkable. It’s not just the players that are being brought in Gasparini and his coaching staff are getting the best out of the players they are bringing in. Duvan Zapata never managed to convince at Napoli they didn’t trust him or believe in him. They have sent him on loan countless amount of times. The Colombian is the best player in Italian football. When he is at his best there’s very little that can be done because of his physical ability and athleticism it makes him a nightmare to defend. Before coming under Gasparini tutelage the most goals he ever scored in a season was 11. One year under Gasparini he scored 28. In just 67 games for Atlanta he has 40 goals and it would even be significantly more had he not been injured. That’s just one example of the type of progress Gasparini has made. He joined on a two-year loan they are not paying him a lot and he is delivered twice as much value then what his paycheck says. Josip ilicic transitioned into a much more complete player since being in Bergamo. He was a player that had unbelievable ability but not enough consistency. Since making his move to Atalanta he is developed that consistency that has taken him up a level. With Florentina only once did he score more than 10 League goals in a campaign. In three seasons with Atlanta he has done it every single season. 49 goals and three seasons compared to 37 goal and 4 years in Florence. Remarkably almost every player that has been signed from a small profit has lived up to it and increased their transfer value significantly. From Timothy Castagne to Hans Hateboer and Luis Muriel as well as many others. Every player that finds themselves wearing the Atalanta Jersey becomes a much more complete and Defined player. There’s a reason Atalanta lose players every season and they still get better Gasparini takes them up a level some are able to thrive others fall short but nonetheless no matter how much turn over there maybe Atalanta find a way to make these things work in Bergamo. Most teams would fall on their face with the amount of turnover that they endure they just do things a little bit different in Bergamo they do what they can to keep the players that they have. However Gianpaolo Gasparini is just cut from a different cloth his system is thriving despite the players that end up leaving Bergamo for bigger clubs. There are a lot of changes that take place but Atalanta continue to thrive and improve every season regardless they have proven their stability and longevity even seeing Stars leaving doesn’t affect the project there are just brilliant.