Alejandro Gomez reveals how he was “forced to start from scratch” at Atalanta ahead of their historic match against Valencia in the Champions League.
Tonight, the Dea will host Valencia in the last 16 of the Champions League and the first leg kicks off at 20:00 GMT.
The Orobici captain came to Italy from Argentinian San Lorenzo in July 2010 and spent three fruitful years at Catania leading to offers from big clubs like Atletico Madrid and Inter.
But the Argentine didn’t try to force a move and when his price tag wasn’t met by any of the two mentioned, he ended up in Ukraine for one season.
Papu Gomez returned to Italy to play for the Dea in September 2014 after an unsuccessful spell at Metalist in Ukraine and he reveals that the war “forced” him to return to Italy.
“In 2013 I had spent three rather good years in Catania,” the 32-year-old told El Pais. “I was 25, 26 years old and I was still young. Inter and Atletico were looking at me, but they didn’t have the financial strength of today.
“They couldn’t afford to pay the €10m requested by Catania. There was an offer of six, but then Atletico signed David Villa for €4m.
“Now it’s usual to skip the preparations during the summer, fight with the President or to say something against the club to help force a transfer.
“In Catania, I could never have done it, even if I felt that my time was up. I never said: ‘If you don’t sell me, I won’t train or be disappointed until I go to Inter’. I’ve never done it before and I haven’t done it at Atalanta either, even if I have received many offers.
“Then there was an offer from Metalist, who played in the Champions League and were fighting for the title in Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk.
“They had a lot of players from Argentina in their squad and I said to myself: ‘Well, if I can’t move to Atletico or stay in Italy, at least I’m going to play in Europe and earn more money.
“I spent a terrible year at Metalist, it only served me economically. The war started in December and I left in September. I was forced to start from scratch at Atalanta, which wasn’t the club it is today.”
Gomez has since helped Atalanta establish themselves among the top four in Italy with his 53 goals and 59 assists in 220 games for the Dea, who have entered the elite of European football for the first time.
When their adventure in the Champions League continues at the Giuseppe Meazza tonight, Gomez will lead the line once again.
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