Atalanta director general Luca Percassi confirms they’ll buy out Bryan Cristante from Benfica for “close to €5m” and warns “Europe respects us now.”
The former Milan and Palermo midfielder always had great potential, but is only really beginning to show it in Bergamo.
“Cristante has grown exponentially since he joined us,” Percassi told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He has become a modern midfielder. He has technique, strength and an eye for goal. We will buy him outright from Benfica for a sum close to €5m.
“He is too important to let go and I am sure the reconstruction of Italian football will also start from him. I’d love to see Cristante and (ex-Atalanta midfielder) Roberto Gagliardini start together for the Nazionale. They have characteristics that complement each other: Cristante is more attacking, the Inter man is a defensive dam.”
Cristante bagged a brace in Atalanta’s astonishing 5-1 victory away to Everton on Thursday, a result that put them in the Europa League Round of 32.
“Europe doesn’t scare us, but it does now respect us. Don’t forget that Nabil Fekir said before the Olympique Lyonnais match that he’d never heard of us: now many European clubs, even the strongest, know who we are. They also fear us now, because results give visibility.
“For example, Liverpool hosted us in their academy for the training session before the Everton match. That is not something that happens often, but they made an exception for Atalanta.”