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Saturday December 19 2020
Papu Gómez an exception for youth-driven Milan

With the Argentinean on his way out of Atalanta in January, Matt Santangelo believes Milan should capitalize on the situation by making him an exception to their youth project.

Following the sale of Giacomo Bonaventura to Milan in summer 2014, Atalanta identified and subsequently acquired Alejandro “Papu” Gómez from Metalist Kharkiv as his replacement.

Prior to his Ukrainian adventure, Gómez had plied his trade in Sicily as a key member of Catania’s Argentine contingent for the better part of three seasons, making over 100 appearances across all competitions.

Papu arrived in Bergamo no stranger to Italy and its tactically-centric nature, but while he may have already been armed with the necessary traits to elevate his game to new heights, he would only begin to reach the peak of powers in 2016 under Gian Piero Gasperini.

Atalanta’s development of talent in one of the continent’s finest academies, as well as their shrewd transfer policy and expansive scouting network, has enabled Gasperini to create both an identity and system reliant on the sum of its parts rather than any individual star to win football matches.

Yet,due to the sale of many premier prospects and purchasing ofcost-effective replacements to scale downon the wage bill, Papu’s been the one true constant-ascaptain on the pitch and an inspiration to La Dea’s faithful offit.

Appearing in over 250 matches for the Bergamaschi, Gomez has slotted in all over the pitch, primarily in the attack where he has produced 59 goals and 71 assists.

Undoubtedly, a highly-productive performer, however it can be argued the 32-year old’s value is best weighed through his role in the club’s back-to-back UEFA Europa League berths, as well as their first Champions League qualification in 2018-19.

The technical quality, exuberance, colorful personality and intangible benefits have made Papu a beloved figure in Bergamo, almost to the point where he could not be imagined anywhere else. But, not all careers are destined to have their fairytale ending; even his.

In recent weeks, an internal rift between Papu and Gasperini has become public, with the diminutive playmaker admitted he could leave the club in January and Gasperini’s decision to leave him out of Atalanta’s squad for their Roma clash is the final confirmation that Gomez’s time at the Gewiss Stadium is over.

Several clubs appear keen to take advantage of Atalanta’s less- than-favorable position and add the veteran to their ranks, including Milan.

Currently sitting first in the league table, the Rossoneri have emerged as surprise Scudetto contenders this campaign, not only on the basis of their impressive play, but their strength and collective character as well.

Stefano Pioli has done well in the dugout dealing with positive covid-19 tests and injuries as a result of a condensed schedule and misfortune. The Italian could surely use every shot in the arm to ensure his Milan stay the course in order to meet their domestic and European objectives.

Milan’s main areas to reinforce in January are primarily at striker with the latest injury setback to Zlatan Ibrahimović, and in the central defence where whichever depth existed has become even thinner.

Amidst all of the discussions over his renewal, Hakan Çalhanoğlu has remained in fine form, and a fundamental piece to completing the top four puzzle this season. Brahim Díaz and Jens Petter Hauge have also injected a fresh bit of youthful life as creators in the final third, leaving Milan relatively stocked in this area.

However, despite growing in age, there is some debate about whether or not Paolo Maldini and company should make an exception on their youth- driven project to acquire Papu.

With Papu, Milan would be getting an established veteran and a gadget player who fills in a plethora of roles in Pioli’s 4-2-3-1. Whether it be playing off the main striker, out wide or as a number 10, few Serie A players have proven to be as influential in a given attacking sequence.

Factoring in the acquisition costs for his services, it can be assumed that the fee will be favorable for Milan to accommodate in January on a slimmer budget, even if Atalanta are one of the red and black’s competitors for top four.

Milan having worked so diligently to clean up their wage bill over the last few seasons, offloading heavy earners and cutting ties with near useless players. At an annual €2m, Papu is Atalanta’s highest earner in 2020-21.

This is a figure that over the short-term, does not disrupt Milan’s healthier financial position or infringe on their youth transfer policy heading into another pivotal summer. According to the latest reports in Italy, Atalanta's asking price is around €15m.

Over the years, Milan have proven to be one of the more active sides in January. Notable acquisitions such as Mattia Destro and Alessio Cerci did not pan out as hoped, but then there are past cases like Antonio Cassano and Mark van Bommel who have played a key part in the chase to meet crucial seasonal goals.

Papu could perhaps have similar potential to tip the scales in favor in a title chase or top four battle - if not for Milan, then perhaps one of their domestic rivals.

Have your say...
If we were to sign Gomez, who would he replace? Who deserves to be axed? Rebic? Saelemaekers? Sure everyone talks about DEPTH, ENDLESS DEPTH, but there are limits. There are always limits. Sure those limits should be pushed. But only for something really special. Gomez is not special. He's found his place at Atalanta. The conditions there have allowed him to reach his potential. He strikes me as a player who would struggle without those precise conditions.
on the 24th December, 2020 at 5:22am
Imagine if you were in a job, and the whole team people just talked about replacing you? What would that do to your morale? And most jobs that we do, do not have arbitrary limits on numbers. If I hear someone knew is joining my team I'm not necessarily threatened because my team can have more than 11 players on the pitch. In football, if a new player signs that plays in your pitch, you're out! They are replacing YOU. Sure you can fight but the club's just spent a gazillion Euros on the new guy!
on the 24th December, 2020 at 5:16am
@kledi

"I think he is been top 5 performer in the world last year."

Ehh... Wouldn't take it that far but I wouldn't mind have him on our bench
on the 23rd December, 2020 at 7:02am
Would def be a starter at Milan, better than calhanoglu, but I think hel go to inter. Let’s face it, if you have conte calling you wouldn’t even respond to a text msg from pioli. The chance for some silverware will also be hard to resist. Would only be a bench player at inter but can see him being a valuable option. Milan will also not want to spend any money, rumors of using caldara money are wrong - Milan already depend on that money for other business. 10m with Milan’s finances is a huge.
on the 22nd December, 2020 at 8:55pm
I would love to see Papu Gomez in Milan he is such a good player I think he is been top 5 performer in the world last year.

Even if he plays in Calhanoglu place I will take him he so much better the Calhanoglu and he scores a lot more then him........I see people saying what happened in Atalanta I don’t care what happened there he isn’t not a trouble maker this is the first time that he’s been in trouble.and he is cheap I believe he will be really good for a few more years.
on the 22nd December, 2020 at 4:58pm
While most of us agree that he would fit seamlessly in Milan formation, I am more concerened about the "side effects" that he might bring. Milan is a young team and the young players need someone to look up to, such as Zlatan who brought his competitive mentality, Kjaer and his professionalism. I am a little concerned about the effect of having someone who had an ugly bust up with his gaffer (as Captain too!) in the team. Would he act similarly when Pioli doesnt use him as first choice?
on the 22nd December, 2020 at 6:49am
Yes please. Can't rely on Calhanoglu and Papu gives you that streak of magic. Talented player, would fit in well.
on the 21st December, 2020 at 7:21pm
Papu is a GOLD for each team he'd play,especially a Serie a club, meaning, he'll fit PERFECTLY in Milan! & given the fact that club still hasn't found common language with Hakan (who is a MUST-STAY, if u ask anyone who knows both football & Milan), Diaz has totally unidentified status (& even if Milan buys him, there's huge chance Real would want a buy-back clause = VERY BAD), so Papu could be a great solution for the next 2, 3 years!
Although it's hard 2 imagine seeing him in another shirt!
on the 21st December, 2020 at 5:36pm
Papu is used to being the big fish in a little pond, at Milan he would definitely a small fish and second choice. I think he would be a good player, he would add something to every team in Serie A but I don't think Milan is where he would shine.
on the 21st December, 2020 at 4:34pm
I respect Papu's qualities, but we dont need a guy who as captain has an awful brawl with a manager like Gasperini, who of course is no saint and has his flaws. Better to focus in different targets
on the 20th December, 2020 at 1:53pm
I think my team Juve could use him too in the short term. He is the spark of creativity out mid is missing. If Juve do not get him. I’d rather a big Italian team participating in next season’s champions league gets him as it will improve the visibility of serie A and coefficient points.
on the 20th December, 2020 at 7:16am
Milan shouldn't prioritize a playmaker like Papu. Right now, they're having big problems in CB and FW due to injuries for several key players. Those are the area that they should focus on, given the limited budget they have. Even after CB and FW are covered, the next priority is RMF/RW, not AMF, because Calhanoglu is currently doing well.
Well of course, if there is no budget concern, they can go purchasing them all like chelsea, since there is no harm in having alternative option for AMF.
on the 20th December, 2020 at 5:04am
it depends mainly on if milan just doesn't settle for gomez but actually goes out and sign a right side forward/winger like thauvin or embolo. milan need a long term solution for ibra they need a alternative for kjaer and they need quality for the right side of the wing and gomez is not the solution for any of these problems.

equally the risk doesn't seem that great gomez is still quality he isn't one of those player who is disruptive he isn't on massive wages he might be worth it.
on the 19th December, 2020 at 9:58pm
I imagine Ibrahimovic would enjoy playing alongside Gomez. He could fit in at Milan.

No point joining Inter, as Conte's rigid system would probably have Gomez out on the LWB position..

Roma's system would suit him too, and Napoli too. Napoli don't really need another attacker, though.

It's a shame he seems to be leaving Atalanta, as his guile and experience could be a major asset vs R Madrid.
on the 19th December, 2020 at 9:38pm
Cont'd. Two games that would have surely been wins prior to Ibra and Kjaer getting injured became lucky draws, with goals coming from both fullbacks and under fortunate circumstances. Suddenly I'm afraid of these two matches against Sassuolo and Lazio. Kalulu looks very promising, but he is out of his depth at CB. Despite impressing under the circumstances he has been out of position a number of times and his lack of height is compounded by poor aerial ability (jumping).
on the 19th December, 2020 at 6:44pm
Our team is suddenly in emergency. Starting a 4th choice 19 y/o RB as a CB. We have 4 teenagers in attack and are down to Tonali and Kessie in the middle. While Papu would be nice for a season or two while a long term solution is found at playmaker, Milan should be focusing on signing a CB and a real striker to back Ibra. These are must sign reinforcements if this club wants to finish in the top 4. As we have seen over the last two games, we are suffering in defense and in attack. Cont'd.
on the 19th December, 2020 at 6:35pm
It would've been better if Papu could play on the right, but he gives his best in the middle or wide left. Regardless, Milan would do well to take advantage of the situation. We should take Gomez and Lammers from Atalanta and in return give them Caldara and the other half of Pessina's ownership, thus solving two problems without spending a penny. Atalanta don't need Lammers right now, they are covered there with Zapata and Muriel. Even a loan could be a good move. Then we can buy our center-back
on the 19th December, 2020 at 5:40pm
It's sad when a small team like Atalanta loses a player like Gomez to the likes of AC Milan. I know this locker room disagreement that has caused this but the fact they're even mentioning swapping Caldara for him. Don't get me wrong Caldara has been fine for Atalanta before he left but it will be crazy considering AC Milan don't want Caldara and uses him more for transfers than games (2 caps) while benefiting off a smaller team asset ie Gomez.
on the 19th December, 2020 at 5:27pm
It would be a good solution for a year or two until we sign a more promising playmaker than Hakan who seems set to leave. Papu is experienced and would be allowed tactical versatility and freedom to move around under Pioli. The advantageous situation with Caldara to exchange the two players would work favorably for us. The real questions is if Maldini can convince Elliott to authorize a move for a 32yo... If it goes through, it will give us a year or two to find another playmaker.
on the 19th December, 2020 at 4:12pm

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