Friday January 29 2021
Serie A will miss Papu Gomez more than Atalanta

Papu Gomez has joined Sevilla from Atalanta and Kaustubh Pandey explains why every Serie A fan should be grateful to the Argentinean star.

Papu Gomez’s marriage with Atalanta ended in a rather acrimonious way. His relationship with Gian Piero Gasperini fell apart after the Argentinean reportedly refused orders in their Champions League home game against FC Midtjylland back in November.

The 32-year-old played the last one of his 252 games with La Da on December 16 against Juventus.

Only a few months ago, nobody could predict such a scenario, let alone Gomez’s Atalanta exit.

He and his teammates united the city and Italy when the country was brought to its knees by COVID19. Bergamo was one of the worst hit cities and arguably the Argentinean’s creative abilities glued La Dea into a unit after the lockdown.

It was a season where Juventus had been knocked out of the Champions League at hands of Lyon. Napoli had suffered the same fate against Barcelona, while Inter couldn’t get past the group stages. Italian sides other than Juve haven’t been exceptional in the Champions League since Milan’s downfall and Atalanta emerged as a beacon of hope in difficult times.

With that backdrop, La Dea came out as a team that captured the imagination of many across the footballing world, as everyone looked at the journey that they have charted over the years. They looked at the stories of their individual players, some of whom were picked from anonymity.

They looked at La Dea’s rise from Serie B to the Champions League and applauded their high-risk, high reward playing style under a coach who had faced tough times at a more heralded club in Inter. All in all, it was the perfect dream for an underdog.

Amidst all this, Gomez defined Gian Piero Gasperini’s men in many ways. His trademark drop of a shoulder, his ability to drift past players and create chances and his tendency to make football look very enjoyable all caught the eye of just about everyone.

He wasn’t just the gum that stuck Atalanta together, he had become an emblem of the city despite being Argentine by nationality. That is an achievement in itself.

Over the years, Atalanta’s approach and progress to the higher echelons of the European game had made the club look like a global force and with that, came more recognition.

Considering Gomez’s own rise from Catania and Metalist, everything about him and his club struck a chord with the masses.

There was a human and a tactical connection with the club and Gomez became a vital part of it because of his importance to the team and his flamboyant approach to the game.

It brought more global appeal to the Serie A and Italian football and interest in Calcio over the last seven years has never been as high as it has been around this time. There are certainly other reasons for that, but Atalanta’s multifold connection with the general footballing crowd sets them apart from others.

They have pioneered the approach towards breaking this stereotype that Calcio is still synonymous with Catenaccio and Gomez has been central to that with all that he showed with his former club.

He offered the marketability in his playing style which might even stand out at Sevilla in era where the idea of ‘modern-day football’ is seen as a product that sells.

The Argentinean was arguably one of the best players in the league in Serie A last season, even though Paulo Dybala took home the MVP of the season accolade. As much as Josip Ilicic enjoyed an enthralling campaign, it was Gomez’s ability to switch flanks, link the play together and play others in that helped the Slovenian and Duvan Zapata.

However, a case can be made of the fact that La Dea’s ultra-attacking system made Gomez look like a better player than he can be at another club. He was perfect for Atalanta, but their playing style was also ideal to enhance his characteristics.

Gasperini’s side seem to have already found the antidote to Gomez’s exit in a revived Josip Ilicic, in the promising Ruslan Malinovs'kyj and in the newcomer Aleksej Mirančuk, who scored a winner against Lazio earlier this week, allowing La Dea to qualify for the Coppa Italia semi-finals. The Nerazzurri even have a better record without the Argentinean star on the pitch.

That being said, Serie A fans enjoyed themselves watching Papu Gomez play and it is no coincidence Milan, Inter, Roma and even Juventus supporters had been loud on social media, asking their clubs to sign the unhappy Argentinean in January.

Instead, it will be Sevilla and La Liga fans who are going to be entertained by the enlightening moves of the 32-year-old who marked an era in Italian football and will be missed by Serie A fans while Atalanta seem to have already moved on.

Have your say...
The quality of Papu was in his self sacrifice and character, something that @Pinturicchio knows little of as his vain rantings reflect his lack of both.
A playmaker is never glorified like scorers and the ability to lead on the pitch thru ball control and passing is underappreciated, ask Pirlo.
Perhaps some can ignore over 5,000 deaths in the Bergamo area and countless infections throughout Lombardy, thru this tragedy Atalanta and Papu gave the citizens hope and joy by playing stellar football
on the 1st February, 2021 at 4:25pm

Big loss for all? I don't think so. Very good player but he is not Ronaldo or Messi's level. He will be forgotten soon. Atalanta's board doing a great job by keeping Gasperini in the club and let their rebellious captain leave.
on the 1st February, 2021 at 8:16am

You do realise he wasn't a striker, yes?

He was outstanding for Atalanta many times. Bit more to football than scoring ratios for wingers lol
on the 31st January, 2021 at 11:00pm
LMFAO Papu Gomez... The guy who couldn't achieve even a 0,5 goals to game ratio. 50 goals in 209 games for Atalanta. What a sham! Who's never been a standout for anyone involved, be the poor Argentina NT or minnows Atalanta. That guy will be missed? Spare us your tripe. 
on the 31st January, 2021 at 5:57am

No problem.
on the 30th January, 2021 at 10:31pm
he was a good servant to atalanta however it was clear his influence was declining but because of his age but the club roster vastly improving in the last 3 years. it does leave them short in one respect if ilicic gets injured they lack a comparable player.

as for the rest of serie a seriously i can understand gomez wouldn't get first team football in the top 7 clubs which might hinder a move however there are mid table teams which could have used a player of gomez ability.
on the 30th January, 2021 at 8:34pm
@Others, Yes sorry I misread Ferban’s post. Well if we compare current madrid to the one when CR7 was still there, ofc they’re weaker now. Their main stars are older and rapidly in declined, while they didn’t have much luck with their recent signings. I think this season they won’t win LaLiga, it’s Atletico’s title to lose.

But well Madrid is still Madrid, it’d be foolish to consider them a weak team and underestimate them. Well my own team lost both games against them.
on the 30th January, 2021 at 5:09pm
Rian, you misread. Ferban was talking about Real Madrid being at their weakest.
Hopefully Atalanta keeps their form in a month's time when the two clubs face off. It will be a great game!
on the 30th January, 2021 at 12:59pm
Rian, Ferban was clearly referring to Real Madrid. I disagree with him though. RM may have stepped off the gas in the CL in recent years, they still managed to win La Liga and have some very strong, experienced players.
on the 30th January, 2021 at 12:42pm
@Ferban, Sorry my bad, when you mentioned the weakest squad, you’re referring to Real Madrid, not Atalanta. In that case I agree with you.
We’ll see, rather than Papu, I think Atalanta’s main protagonist in the last 2 seasons is Josip Illicic. When he’s in his peak performance, he’s world class and unplayable.

It’s just a shame that Papu and Atalanta part ways on bad term.
on the 30th January, 2021 at 10:09am
Come on,

it's not like he is a legend or comes from a big club. LOL
it's just another transfer from the likes of Spal or Crotone, no big deal.
on the 30th January, 2021 at 8:00am
Weakest Atalanta for a long time? That's just not true. Do you know that Atalanta just achieved their highest ever league points for the first 19 games? They also beat reigning English champion and proceed to UCL knockout.

On the contrary, I think this is the best Atalanta squad. They have great depth now, unlike before, with players like Romero, Caldara, Miranchuk, Malinovsky, Pessina, Maehle, Muriel, Lammers, etc

Papu had his moment, now it's time for atalanta to go higher
on the 30th January, 2021 at 3:04am
What a shame that He left seria a..i always liked Papu he has been one of the best in seria a in the past few seasons....but let’s be honest here it was all his own doesn’t matter how good you are you play in a team and if the coach asks you to play slightly different then you should do it....this is a team sport not this one I’m with gasperini...and his team are flying at the moment.
on the 29th January, 2021 at 10:59pm
Big loss for all.

He's a fine player, and his know-how could be sorely missed against an experienced CL team like R Madrid.

Hopefully Atalanta have a real go at them, as they're at their weakest for a long time. Let's hope they don't get overawed by RM's name
on the 29th January, 2021 at 10:20pm

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