Tuesday June 4 2019
'Atalanta want to emulate Ajax'

Atalanta President Antonio Percassi says ‘the model must be Ajax’ but that Napoli target Duvan Zapata could be sold for €50m.

Atalanta are preparing for their first-ever Champions League campaign after a third-place finish in Serie A, but Sky Sport Italia reported late on Monday that Zapata was in talks over a return to Napoli.

“To play the Champions League, we need players with quality and physicality. The model must be Ajax,” Percassi told Bergamo TV.

“If a player like Ilicic comes available then we’ll bring him in immediately, but costs have exploded.

“The British market has busted the figures, so as football evolves it’s not easy to bring in big names.

“My son Luca is talking to Chelsea about keeping Pasalic permanently. Ilicic and Papu Gomez will 100 percent, they’re under contract.

“We’ll see about Zapata if we receive €50m for him. We’ll talk to Gasperini about any valid alternatives.

“But they’re all hypotheses. We’re at the beginning of the window. Mancini is our most-requested player, but it’s not certain that he’ll leave.

“All our players want to stay now, given we’re in the Champions League. I don’t hear anyone wanting to leave. I’ll simply say that it depends on the economic proposals.

“If Berisha left, there’s a possibility that Sportiello will be kept. Pavoletti’s a very good player, but I honestly don’t know if he’s available.

“Petagna’s had a great season, but we’re only at the start of the window. The same goes for Lazzari. We have things to do and can’t weigh up only one player per role.

“We must sign players on our terms, who we can afford.”

Percassi then revealed how his club changed their objective midway through the campaign.

“Initially our maximum target was the Europa League, but then the big sides slowed down and we got closer and closer to fourth place.

“After the win at Lazio, we thought about the Champions League. We deserved to win the Coppa Italia but didn’t because we were robbed, yet we didn’t suffer a backlash.

“In September we suffered. They told us that we were destined for relegation. The Coach did extraordinarily well to overturn the situation.”

Finally, the owner was asked about the possibility of playing Champions Leagues at the Azzurri d’Italia as opposed to Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium.

“The Champions League can’t be played in Bergamo as it stands. It’s currently impossible, but we’ll try to proceed with UEFA.

“We’ll also request special dispensation for the stadium, which will be completed next year. There’s a remarkable list of things to fix, but we’ll fight to the end.”

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