Sunday May 20 2018
Atalanta talent factory

La Dea continues to marshal young players through one of the Peninsula’s top footballing academies and mould them into impactful first teamers, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Over the last few years, Atalanta have emerged as one of Italian football’s model clubs for others on the Peninsula to emulate.

Besides having veterans like captain Papu Gomez to shoulder leadership responsibility, set the tone in the locker room and be the example for the younger players in the squad, the Centro Sportivo Bortolotti is where most of the magic has transpired. 

Aside from World Cup winners Gaetano Scirea and Antonio Cabrini, La Dea’s trusted philosophies and approach to grooming talent has seen players like Roberto Donadoni, Manolo Gabbiadini, Riccardo Montolivo, Giampaolo Pazzini, Filippo Inzaghi, Giacomo Bonaventura and Christian Vieri graduate on through and enjoy varied levels of success in the Italian top flight. 

Due in large part to a tight budget to operate with under President Antonio Percassi, along with a trust in the process of developing talent, Atalanta are able to find that balance between producing positive results and not falling victim to risky business on the inflated transfer market. This isn’t to say that Atalanta do not spend on players, of course. 

The Bergamaschi invest smartly in the right players for Coach Gian Piero Gasperini to utilise, with each having a purpose, and allow for their academy to push products into the first-team in assembly-line fashion.

In recent years, names like Mattia Caldara, Roberto Gagliardini, Andrea Conti and Franck Kessie have all become influential top-flight performers for Atalanta - all products of both the system they grew up in, but also the guidance of Gasperini since he set foot at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia in 2016.

Despite being raided of the aforementioned players over the last 18 months, Atalanta continue to plug the gaps by a calculated market approach in addition to their academy efforts. Acquiring raw, fringe youngsters from Milan’s Primavera like Andrea Petagna and Bryan Cristante for moderate fees while also not limiting youth the opportunity to contribute, Atalanta have figured out the right formula for consistency in Serie A - and the proof is in not only the profits from sales, but also the finishes in the table.

Last season, Atalanta defied odds, turned heads and managed an impressive fourth place finish, which clinched a spot in this season’s Europa League, where they topped a group with the likes of Everton and Lyon. Entering the final round this weekend, Atalanta sit seventh, but with an opportunity to finish above a Milan side who just splashed north of €200m on talent, and secure their second consecutive Europa League berth.

Once again this summer, Atalanta will undergo wholesale changes to their roster, as both Caldara and Leonardo Spinazzola head off to Juventus, while Cristante continues to be the subject of transfer rumours with multiple clubs around Europe. In any case, Atalanta will continue to rely on what has rendered success over the years, putting faith in their academy and what products it produces. The 19-year old striker Musa Barrow, who has turned it on over the last two months with three goals in 10 appearances, is the latest example of why Atalanta’s system will continue to churn out talent, allow them to show their worth and keep the operation moving. 

They are likely to have even more funds at their disposal soon enough, having bought the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia last year and planning a radical revamp of the arena.

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Have your say...
Atalanta is the best model in Italy,one of the finest in the world in terms of giving a chance to youth,being responsible,pleasing to the eye,and effective.Juve is no longer a youth producing team.Juve downhill started the moment they got rid of Giovinco after that they are no longer able to give Italy good Italian players.Napoli have one italian,Inter 2,Juve 2!!!!,Roma 1, etc...Milan is the only one fielding 5-7 Italian youth but if they dont get results they will sell them soon!
on the 24th May, 2018 at 8:38am
Only desperate luck prevented them from progressing further in the Europa League this season. They were brilliant against everyone they faced, including Dortmund, and played highly inventive football, scorched with passion and commitment.

Atalanta are proof that you can run a club morally and responsibly, even in an age when such things are unfashionable.

Personally, I'd much prefer to see Gasperini in charge of the Azzurri.
on the 22nd May, 2018 at 9:14pm
@ Ac Milan fan milan model has been rubbish no doubt frankly most of the youth players milan let go are a improvement on what milan currently has at the moment. It wasn't just galliani failure even allegri chose to play muntari over cristante.

The best model is atalanta at least in italy no one touches it and finally they are starting to get transfer fee worthy of their players. This website is full of trolls so i am not going to get into why i disagree with you about juve model.
on the 21st May, 2018 at 11:56pm
Atalanta is a case study. As a Milan fan I suffer knowing that players like Verdi, Cristante, Darmian, Astori (RIP), and even Aubameyang, could all have played for Milan at minimal cost. Instead Berlusconi showed less and less faith in youth over the years, preferring overpriced free agents, and now the new ownership spends 250MM just to end up in sixth AGAIN. Juve is another model here, buying great ITALIAN talent, giving them experience on loan, then bringing them back to be champions.
on the 21st May, 2018 at 7:23pm
Other Italian clubs should follow Atalanta's policy and start producing good quality Italian players. I was very impressed with Italy U17. They lost on penalties but our 2 goals were fantastic. The future is bright, the future is Azzurro.
on the 21st May, 2018 at 12:53pm
difficult to replace, hopefully they can retain Ilicic and continue to entertain.
on the 20th May, 2018 at 1:48pm
Good article. I am a Juve fan, but Atalanta has been as fun to watch as anyone these last 2 years, especially the effort they put forth in the Europa League as they were unfortunate not to take out Dortmund and continue on further. Thought this years performance was even more impressive than last repeating last years success without Conti, Gagliardini and Kessie. Their style of play under Gasperini is pleasing to watch and I hope it is able to continue. Losing Caldara is going to be very
on the 20th May, 2018 at 1:46pm
you know has misleading it is to have vieri who started at torino and inzaghi who started at piacenza amongst atalanta graduates.

I will credit them even in a generation of poor italian players atalanta produce montolivo pazzini padoin consigli bonnaventura lazzarri and agazzi.

You look at mancini italy team selection 5 players started their careers at atalanta. That representation is only going to grow with the likes of baselli conti gabbiandini gagliardini quality.
on the 20th May, 2018 at 1:24pm
Credits to Gasperini. Hopefully, Atalanta can make it to Europe today.
on the 20th May, 2018 at 11:40am

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