Gian Piero Gasperini urged Atalanta to make new signings for Champions League football and complained the Serie A extended transfer window is “a circus sideshow.”
It’ll be difficult to improve on their record-breaking season, with a third-place finish, Champions League qualification and reaching the Coppa Italia Final.
“At times, I get the feeling a little arrogance might be setting in and the risk our team might be over-estimated,” Gasp told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It’s also dangerous to say Atalanta cannot do better than this, because it is the duty of a team and players to always aim for improvement.”
The Orobici played three friendlies in England this summer, beating Norwich City and suffering narrow defeats to Swansea City and Leicester City.
“We met three teams who attacked us with seven players at a time. In Italy, only perhaps Napoli, sometimes, will do that. The English sides also play at a pace we are not accustomed to in Serie A, but will face that kind of test in the Champions League.
“At this moment, we are working more on defensive movements, but when the team manages to develop its attacking play, we can create huge problems for even the top opponents.
“Our style of football is very positive and we decide not to clam up or be forced back. It doesn’t work against all teams, because some don’t let you even see the ball. We’ve got to raise the quality level throughout the squad, otherwise our approach cannot be sustained.”
Atalanta have kept hold of their star men this summer, but Gasperini warns with Champions League football, they need reinforcements other than Luis Muriel.
“The club knows my ideas and will do what it can. I didn’t say that I am worried, but over the past summers we brought in 10 players, the year we go into the Champions League I’d expect at least four or five. Muriel needs to improve his fitness levels, as at the moment he’ll struggle to play 90 minutes.
“Right now, I consider Ruslan Malinovskyi to be an alternative to Papu Gomez. He has quality, character and confidence on the ball, but has to settle in to the team. In a couple of months, I could pull him deeper into midfield, but there’s no point doing that now.”
The tactician is no fan of the extended Italian transfer window, which doesn’t close until September 2, long after the season has started on August 24.
“In Serie A our summer window lasts three months and it becomes a circus sideshow. Everyone talks and nobody does anything. The English, who treat football as a sport and not cinema, start the Premier League season the same day that the window closes.
“They get to the point much quicker than we do, as we end up all trying to finish deals in the final 15 days and it doesn’t help to create a consolidated team.”