Atalanta Club Focus: Luca Cigarini so good he is noticed even when he doesn’t play
All too often in the modern game we hear teams being labeled as a “one man team” due to them having one certain individual that stands out head and shoulders above his fellow team mates.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale is a prime example, week in week out he has torn teams apart at will with his blistering pace taking his Spurs side on an impressive Premier League and Europa League run in the process. But the moment he is sidelined through injury or suspension his side get found out just like they did at the San Siro where they were defeated 4-1 by Internazionale.
Obviously this is just an exaggeration in most cases, and if someone told you that Atalanta were a one man side you would question their reasons for saying so, before taking a guess at that one man being German Denis or more recently Giacomo Bonaventura. But you would be wrong.
Although a single La Dea player may not stand out all the time, the facts don’t lie and the results point to a clear candidate for being the key to La Dea’s success and failures this season, that one man is Luca Cigarini.
Up until early February, the 26-year-old midfield playmaker had only missed one game for the Bergamo side all season, incidentally that one game he missed was against Genoa and Atalanta lost 1-0 at home.
In the Nerazzurri’s last five games they have lost two and drawn one, and have only just managed to scrape victories over relegation strugglers Palermo and Pescara. Cigarini has not played in any of Atalanta’s last five fixtures and his absence has been clearly noticed.
So rather than picking up praise for his great performances he has been branded as a key player by purely being unavailable for selection. Without him, the Orobici’s midfield has looked disorganised and clueless with a clear lack of creativity going forward.
What is more worrying is that playing without Cigarini could be a long term problem seeing as he is only at the Bergamo club on a season’s long loan deal from Napoli.
Many people would be forgiven for thinking that the creative midfielder was the sole property of Atalanta, bearing in mind this is the second year he has spent at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, on occasions he has even been given the captain’s arm band (not the usual role that is given to a loanee).
This is currently his second spell in Bergamo after having joined from Parma in 2008 for €10.5 million only to be sold to Napoli the following season for €11 million. Despite only being at the club on loan for the last two seasons Cigarini is one of the longest serving players in the current Atalanta squad.
The Bergamo team have made no secrets about their desire to make the move permanent at the earliest possible opportunity, but as yet no deal has been made official, although rumours of late have suggested that Napoli may be willing to offer the services of Cigarini plus cash for young Atalanta starlet Bonaventura.
It is believed that both Atalanta and Napoli club officials spoke about such deals after last Sunday’s meeting between the two sides at the Stadio San Paolo, where La Dea were closely defeated 3-2 after a late Goran Pandev winner stole all three points for the home side.
During the winter transfer window there was talk about Cigarini making a move to one of the Milan clubs or Fiorentina, but talk of these moves soon died down when Cigarini’s playing form hit a rough patch.
Despite missing two of the last five games for Atalanta through injury, Stefano Colantuono and the powers that be in Bergamo seem to have decided to leave their star man on the bench for the other three games even though he had returned to full training in good time. There has been suggestions that they are trying to keep Cigarini out of the limelight until a deal has been reached to secure his services long term.
Cigarini, who is somewhat of a dead ball specialist, has made it clear that he sees if foreseeable future in Bergamo at a club he has grown to consider his own.
Before the winter break Cigarini was without doubt a key player for the Nerazzurri he has also contributed with two goals and four assists from 20 games this season. His early season form even saw him get called up to Cesare Prandelli’s Italy squad although he failed to make an appearance for the Azzurri.
With the up coming international break Cigarini should be able to use this time regain further fitness and if he is does not feature at any point in the following week’s fixture against Sampdoria it will become clear that there is obviously an ulterior motives for his absence.