Atalanta’s Progress: By the numbers

Last season, Atalanta sent shock-waves throughout Italian football and qualified for the Champions League, finishing ahead of Italy’s traditional giants Inter, Roma, and Milan among others. Along with European football comes the luxury of a pitfall of cash and unique opportunities for growth that Atalanta have taken full advantage of.

Beyond their Champions League cash, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have been extremely proactive on the transfer market, selling their players for incredible profits. Dejan Kulusevki, for example. The Swedish international has only played three times for them in his entire career and was sold for nearly forty-five million euros. Let’s take a deeper look at the numbers.

According to Calcio e Finanza, Atalanta have already cashed forty million euros from the Champions League and could make more depending on their two-legged affair with Valencia. Given recent form, it’s not entirely improbable they progress to the final eight.

While Champions League money is always welcomed, it’s not as sustainable as other sources of revenue for the club. After all, will they qualify for Europe’s elite competition every season? They’re hoping so, but probably not.

As a result, Atalanta have enacted a model wherein they sell their top-performing young players to Italy’s big clubs after breakout seasons. Kulusevski to Juve, Gagliardini to Inter, Cristante and Mancini to Roma, Conti and Kessie to Milan, and the list goes on. In this sense, they maximize their profits. While certain cases will have them thinking they moved on their players a season too early, that’s always better than feeling they sold a player a season too late.

Just ask Torino’s Urbano Cairo. After Andrea Belotti’s breakout season, Torino reportedly got offers ranging between 50 to 75 million euros for their hitman. Cairo played hard-ball, kept Belotti and has since missed out on a unique rebuilding opportunity by turning down those offers. Today, Belotti won’t fetch anywhere near the previously reported price-tags. Atalanta, on the other hand, have a knack for selling players at the right time. In fact, their track record speaks for itself.  Most of their departed players, bar a few, have struggled to recreate their past form at their new clubs.

According to Transfermarkt’s numbers, the Bergamo-based club are set to cash in a further 110 million euros this season, in addition to Musa Barrow’s reported sale of 20M. That’s 130M on players that have either already been replaced or have never featured regularly for them.

With their squad lacking a few additions to take the next step, it will be interesting to see what Atalanta does with that money. Will they abandon their current philosophy and go for more-experienced players in hopes of making the leap alongside Italy’s elite or will they continue with their own model that has worked wonders for them?

If last transfer window was anything to go by, it will arguably be a mix of both, with a particular focus on experienced players. See: Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi. As another transfer window beckons, Atalanta’s activity will be worth monitoring. They have the money and a vision: but can they deliver on it?

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Juventus 1-0 AC Milan: Tops and flops for the Rossoneri

Despite a very positive performance, after a period of disappointment, AC Milan failed to keep a clean sheet away at Juventus on Sunday evening. The Bianconeri managed to clinch all three points in the end, as Dybala came to their rescue.

Pioli’s men put up a good fight despite their recent struggles, which perhaps caught the home side by surprise, who were predicted to win the game with ease. However, after just ten minutes, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be the case. Then again, Juve snatched all points, which is what matters. Continue reading

Chievo 1-2 AC Milan: Rossoneri grab fifth consecutive win ahead of the derby

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AC Milan did what they had to do against Chievo, although there’s a lot to ask for still. In any case, the Rossoneri grabbed three important points ahead of the Milan derby next weekend, as they will head into the clash ahead of Inter in the standings.

As expected, Gattuso’s men saw most of the possession throughout the game, but were troubled on more than one occasion by Chievo’s high pressing. Rodriguez’ absence was notable, as he’s usually very good at playing out from the back, an aspect in which Laxalt needs a bit more work. Luckily, however, Biglia was there to rescue the build-up phase when Chievo were knocking on the door.

Even though Milan didn’t really test the host’s goalkeeper in the first half, they still managed to grab the opener. Paqueta won a free-kick on the edge of the box after a nice move, and Biglia converted it brilliantly with a curling effort. Sorrentino could do nothing about the strike as it ended up in the top left bin.

However, just ten minutes later, Chievo equalised through their captain Hetemaj, who was left unmarked in the box after Conti lost track of the player. Sloppy goal to concede for the Rossoneri, who hadn’t let one in since the game against Atalanta.

Gattuso’s men were unable to respond in the little that remained of the first half, but showed great desire at the beginning of the last 45 minutes. This paid off as Milan re-took the lead through Piatek, who capitalized on Castillejo’s flick: a true striker’s goal. After the goal, the Rossoneri focused on the defending, seeing out the win.

The home side failed to get back into the game, allowing Milan to claim three important points ahead of next weekend’s clash with Inter. Just like against Sassuolo, the performance wasn’t fantastic by any means, but they got the job done. Compared to the Sassuolo game, there were certainly improvements tonight, which hopefully can benefit them well against Inter.

Looking at individual performances, Biglia was the man of the match. Returning from injury, the Argentinian put in a great shift in the midfield, dictating the play from start to finish. This is something we’ve gotten used to with the no.21, but his free-kick goal certainly sweetens the pot.

The fan favourite, Conti, was without a doubt the flop of the match. Tonight’s performance didn’t live up to his usual standard, both in the defensive and attacking phase. Since his return, he’s only performed well, so the poor performance was eventually going to come. On the whole, it will only help him in his recovery phase.

Some Milan fans will feel that the performance could’ve been better. On the other hand, Gattuso’s men have been performing on a consistent level for the last weeks, and the results just go to show for it. Of course, the performance will eventually have to pick up even more, though three points is an important testament to the progress.

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Gattuso hopes consistency will help AC Milan against SPAL

After a disastrous spell in the league, during which they haven’t won in four games, AC Milan are gearing up to face SPAL on Saturday evening. This will be the decisive test for Gattuso, who’s currently on the brink. 

Not only have the Rossoneri failed to win in these games, but they’ve also failed to score. In fact, Gattuso’s men have failed to find the back of the net in their last four successive Serie A games, which is their joint-worst run since 1930 (six games). In other words, you could certainly say that the team is experiencing a crisis, as the top four is slowly slipping away.

Luckily for Milan, though, their rivals haven’t done too good either as of late, which certainly helps limit the consequences of their poor run. The Rossoneri are just three points off the fourth spot, although the draw against Frosinone saw them move down to sixth place. Therefore, at the moment, it’s not just a race between Milan and Lazio, but also with Sampdoria. Since the latter will face Juventus away from home on Saturday, the order could be restored, that is if Milan get their first win in four games.

It looks like Gattuso will rely on consistency against SPAL, as it could be the first time that he fields the same starting eleven twice in a row since the third round, when they played Roma and Cagliari. However, there is one question mark. Suso was originally ruled out for the game, but appeared on the squad list earlier today. It’s not expected that he will be risked, although it shouldn’t be ruled out either.

AC Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessiè, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu; Castillejo, Higuain, Cutrone.

Andrea Conti made his comeback against Fiorentina last weekend and also played 16 minutes against Frosinone on Wednesday. Despite a bright impact, he’s not quite ready to start, as was revealed by Gattuso during today’s press conference. As said, though, he looked to be in good shape, offering something else to the Rossoneri attack.

“I want to see 23 determined players tomorrow, how we win does not matter to me, what matters is the final result,” Gattuso stated during today’s press conference.

After reports suggested that the 40-year-old would need a convincing display in order to keep his job, this certainly hints at the opposite. Perhaps, Maldini and Leonardo have decided that Gattuso is the right man for the job, although there were moments it seemed sacking was the only option.

In any case, Milan will need to put an end to their goal drought, as three points are absolutely crucial in order to stay within the top four teams. Should the Rossoneri not make top four this season, then that will have many consequences ahead of next season. Leonardo revealed that the redemptions of Bakayoko and Higuain are dependant on Champions League qualification, which means that the players really need to step up.

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Gattuso right to ponder Abate-Calabria duel

Ahead of the derby, Gattuso has a key role in choosing the right starting eleven for such an important game, although really only one position seems to be unknown on the eve of the Derby Della Madonnina. 

The long-awaited clash will take place at San Siro tomorrow evening, with Inter being the designated home side this time out. This edition of the derby has received an extra boost thanks to the arrival of special striker at Milan this summer, creating the inevitable duel between the two Argentinian forwards, Higuain and Icardi.  Continue reading

Italy improving under Mancini, but supporters must pump the breaks


After banging in the stoppage-time goal at the back post thanks to substitute Kevin Lasagna’s initial glancing header from the corner, Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi’s late-game heroics were enough to see Italy past Poland 1-0 on Sunday, escaping relegation from Group 3 in the UEFA Nations League.

The 26-year old celebrated his first international tally by throwing up a “13″ towards the heavens in honor of the late Viola captain Davide Astori. Surely, it was a unifying moment for Italy and Italians everywhere who swarmed the match-winner and finally had something to rally around after 12 months of heartbreak.

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Conti’s return to cause headache for AC Milan’s Gattuso

As the International break has kicked off, Gattuso’s men (except eleven of them) have enjoyed a good recovery week at Milanello ahead of the clash with Cagliari next weekend. 

In addition to this, the Rossoneri have been brought good news as Andrea Conti, who’s been injured for just about a year, is closing in on a return. Continue reading