Saturday February 15 2020
Gasp: 'I'm the Sir Alex of Atalanta'

Gian Piero Gasperini doesn’t see Atalanta as the Leicester City of Italy, but believes in their Champions League chances against Valencia and his role as their version of Sir Alex Ferguson.

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This is a head-to-head for fourth place and the 62-year-old tactician could take this small club to its second consecutive Champions League campaign.

“I can see myself staying here for a long time, like Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United,” Gasp told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek.

“I have settled perfectly into this city and feel very much at home. I’ll add that if you are not able to get a football project working here, then you won’t get it to work anywhere.

“On the one hand, I would like to try another experience at the top level, but on the other, I’d set a lot more limitations to what I am prepared to do than in the past. I am in a truly privileged situation, so tearing me away from here will not be easy…”

Gasperini did have a very brief experience at Inter in 2011, lasting just five competitive games before he was sacked.

There followed spells at Palermo and Genoa, but he has truly found his niche since moving to Atalanta in the summer of 2016, taking them to fourth place and now the Champions League Round of 16 against Valencia.

Are the Bergamo Boys the Leicester City of Italy?

“If you’re asking me whether Atalanta can win the Scudetto, then I’ll say no. There is this incredible disparity between the sums paid by some clubs compared to others. Atalanta sell, the others buy.

“It’s not just an economic issue, of course, as I am the first to highlight the importance of tactics and playing style, but the size of a club does count.

“Leicester had a fairy-tale, but they were able to win because that season all the big clubs had an off year. We’d need the same circumstances.

“Over the years, we’ve taken it one game at a time and adjust our objectives from there. In the Champions League, we’re in a position where we have the opportunity of going through and that would be fantastic, even if it’s far from guaranteed.

“Valencia are a tough opponent, we have the opportunity to write a new page in the Atalanta history books and it’d be a dream to get into the Champions League quarter-final. If we’d drawn Barcelona or Liverpool, the verdict would’ve been sealed, but with Valencia I’d say it’s 50-50.

“As for Serie A, it’s a strange one this year. We could’ve had more points, but had some unfortunate incidents, for instance losing Duvan Zapata to a serious injury.

“I’d like to remain in Europe, while qualifying for the Champions League again would be like winning the Scudetto for us.”

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