Atalanta Club Focus: Reading between the Nerazzurri lines
Despite being only one round into the new Serie A campaign, there is much to discuss in terms of what is to follow for Atalanta in the coming weeks, and possibly even the reminder of the season.
Every cloud has a silver lining and last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Cagliari comes with plenty to smile about, providing we read between the lines.
First on the agenda is the future of Giacomo Bonaventura. Although the 23-year-old Azzurri international has been repeatedly linked with a move to both Milan clubs and Juventus during the close season, Stefano Colantuono has continued to select the young midfielder on a regular basis throughout the Orobici’s pre-season, into the Coppa Italia and now their Serie A campaign too.
If other on-going transfer sagas are anything to go by, it would be a pretty good assumption to say the ‘Jack’ is not going anywhere during this mercato at least.
We only have to look at the Gareth Bale situation, for a recent example of a player facing an immanent departure being wrapped in cotton wool and not being selected for his current club. Although there are claims that Bale is “carrying an injury”.
Having been at Atalanta since he was 18 years of age, Bonaventura has built up a close relationship with the La Dea tifosi, and the player is reminded on a regular basis that should he stay with the club, and in the not to distant future he would be the most likely candidate to take the captaincy when 33-year-old Gianpaolo Bellini calls it a day.
Should ‘Jack’ stay and follow in his captain’s footsteps he will undoubtedly become a La Dea legend in time. Although another side of the argument is that if the goal-scoring midfielder wants to further his career on the international stage he will have to leave Bergamo for a more prestigious club.
Fortunately for ‘Jack’ and the Atalanta faithful their salvation could lay in the hands of former La Dea star and current Italy boss Cesare Prandelli. A one-time Atalanta midfielder himself, Prandelli is the man responsible for handing Bonaventura his first and only international cap.
There has been no secrets made about Prandelli’s selection methods when it comes to naming his squad, every single player that pulls on an Azzurri shirt under the current boss is there on merit alone. It is no longer the case that just being a big name is good enough or playing for a top side will give you your chance, just ask Cagliari’s Davide Astori, former Torino central defender Angelo Ogbonna and current Granata winger Alessio Cerci, or Bologna captain Alessandro Diamanti.
Granted, if Bonaventura chooses to remain with Atalanta until later in his career he is unlikely to play much, if any, European club football. But if you asked any of the Atalanta side that reached the semi-final of the 1987–88 European Cup Winners’ Cup or the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in the 1990–91, they would never have dreamed of representing Atalanta on the European stage either.
Elsewhere, Moussa Kone was handed his Serie A debut at the weekend. The 23-year-old Ivorian looked set to break into the Atalanta first team at the beginning of last season, but the club decided that a loan move to Varese would be more beneficial for his development.
Kone played nearly 70 minutes against Cagliari and the debutant did not looked fazed in the slightest as he tirelessly tried to keep Radja Nainggolan under control.
It should be pretty safe to say that after the weekend’s performance Kone will be with the Atalanta first team this season and not be loaned to gain more experience.
Whether it be good or bad, it is also clear to see that after the opening game of the season Colantuono has currently no plans to differ from his chosen formation and tactical approach that he used so often last campaign.
In fact, by throwing away a 1-0 lead many Atalanta fans may even feel that there is no change from what we all saw all too often last year; the Orobici’s inability to hold on to a winning position.
Next up for Atalanta is Torino and when il Toro come to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia there will certainly be an old score to settle. Last time these two sides met in Bergamo it resulted in the Nerazzurri being on the receiving end of their joint highest ever home defeat as a woeful La Dea team was brushed aside 5-1.
Daniele Capelli and Giulio Migliaccio both missed out on last week’s fixture, Capelli is still yet to regain match fitness after being sidelined for most of last season, with various knee injuries. While Migliaccio missed out on his chance for his second La Dea debut with a knee ligament strain that he picked up in training. Both players will be monitored and assessed over the coming week.
With the transfer window coming to a close just one day after the next round of fixtures, we could still see a very different side than that which lined up against Cagliari.