Atalanta’s ascent to stardom has taken Italian football by storm this season, punching above their weight season after season. The Bergamo-based outfit has shown no signs of slowing down this year and has since qualified for the Round of 16 of the Champions League. As an intriguing matchup with Real Madrid awaits them in February, Atalanta may have to take the field against Los Galacticos without their star man, Alejandro Papu Gomez.
The diminutive playmaker has reportedly fallen out with Gian Piero Gasperini and as a result, has been frozen out of the first team. Italian clubs have circled like vultures following the reports, with Roma, Lazio, and Milan all being linked with a move for the playmaker. Rumours quickly surfaced that Gomez would appreciate a move to Lazio, adding further fuel to the story.
In many ways, Gomez is a perfect fit for Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio. While his setup may be far more rigid than Atalanta’s free-flowing system, the Argentine playmaker is extremely familiar with the 3-5-2 formation and could slot in seamlessly alongside Ciro Immobile. Gomez has demonstrated he can be devastating alongside a more physical presence in the final third and will almost certainly strike a deadly partnership with the Italian international.
Alternatively, Inzaghi can alter his 3-5-2 to include a trequartista behind the strikers. The Italian tactician has flirted with this possibility in the past but has never used it over a sustained period of time. A front three of Gomez, Correa and Immobile could open up any rearguard and would be worth tinkering with.
Luis Alberto acts as a defacto attacking midfielder despite slotting into the midfield three and regularly looks to get forward between the lines. Gomez’s arrival would take the creative burden off the Spanish international, who is largely tasked with linking up play in the final third. Luis Alberto excelled in that position last season, registering six goals and 15 assists in 36 appearances. The former Liverpool man has since slowed down this season and is yet to record an assist. Regardless, Luis Alberto continues to create countless chances and remains an integral piece to Inzaghi’s attack.
When the 28-year-old is struggling, Lazio is not nearly as dangerous in the final third and often look toothless. Available at around 10 million euros, Gomez would be an ideal alternative to Luis Alberto’s creativity. With Gomez roaming dangerously between the lines, much of the focus would be off the Spaniard in the final third, allowing him to use his vision to hurt the opposition backline.
Gomez may be turning 33 in February, but the Atalanta man is a bonafide gamechanger. In Italy, countless players on the wrong side of 30 – notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic – have proven they can still contribute. If anything, Gomez has only gotten better with age and has, at the very least, another two or three productive years ahead of him. If he is available at the right price, Lazio would be foolish not to pull the trigger on a deal for him.
The Biancocelesti took Italy by storm last season, competing against Juventus for the Scudetto and qualifying for the Champions League. Should Lazio want to replicate last year’s exploits, they will need quality reinforcements. Their summer arrivals have failed to make an impact since joining, forcing Inzaghi to rely on his usual suspects despite competing on three fronts.
Lazio’s Round of 16 encounter with Bayern Munich is a tall ask for the capital-based club, but in a season unlike any other, they may just spring a surprise. Gomez could be the inspired piece of business the Biancocelesti need to get themselves over the line and into the next round alongside Europe’s elite.
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