Edy Reja is ready to back the side that narrowly avoided relegation in 2014-15. But is his confidence in last season’s Orobici squad wise? Or should there have been more transfer activity this summer? Barney Lloyd-Wood finds out.
Despite the fight Atalanta sank into last season, experienced Coach Edy Reja has largely kept faith in his squad, with just over three weeks left of the transfer window remaining. The Bergamo club will be hoping to move away from the danger zone, having very nearly been dragged under in last season’s relegation battle.
A mix of youth and experience at La Dea has undoubted potential, but the loyal fan base connected to the club no doubt saw a season of underachievement last campaign, with Atalanta winning just seven Serie A games.
The good news for the Bergamo-based side is that last season’s star man Mauricio Pinilla has remained at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. The Chilean international arrived in January last season, and his six goals and two assists in 12 Serie A starts were a big part of the reason his side were able to avoid the plunge into Serie B. With a pre-season under his belt with the Orobici, the former Heart of Midlothian striker will hope to pick up where he left off.
It hasn’t been completely quiet on the transfer front either. Slovenian international Jasmin Kurtic has arrived from Sassuolo, and brings Serie A experience following spells at Palermo, Torino and Fiorentina. Fans got a taste of what he will offer in pre-season, his fantastic volley earning a draw with Queens Park Rangers.
With wins over Hapoel Haifa and Renate also under their belts, plus Gabriel Paletta seemingly on the verge of joining from Milan, the Orobici should be a much more solid proposition going into this season - at least on paper.
However, with just two wins in front of their home crowd during the entirety of last season, Atalanta must quickly show improvement this time around if they are to avoid incurring the wrath of the Bergamo public.
Going into his 35th year as a Coach, last season would have been one of the tougher challenges he faced. But the man who has managed clubs at all different ends of the table will want to push on from last season, with the foundations of the team from the previous campaign, as well as a few choice additions.
Signed after a successful loan spell at the club, Pinilla provided a real highlight in the Serie A goals reel last season with a superb overhead kick against Torino. If he can from an understanding with fellow South American German Denis, the Orobici could have some real firepower on their hands.
The Slovenian’s superb volley against QPR in pre-season demonstrated his talent, and if Reja can coax that out of him on a consistent basis, the 26-year-old could be the catalyst which shoots La Dea up the table.
After having been linked with Premier League side Swansea over the summer, Atalanta have been keen to ensure they keep hold of defensive midfielder Luca Cigarini. Sitting in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, the former Napoli man could be key to the side’s ambitions, and could even win himself a spot for the Azzurri ahead of the European Championships next summer.
Sportiello; Canini, Stendardo, Bellini, CHERUBIN; Carmona, Cigarini, KURTIC, Moralez; Pinilla, Denis
Some solidity around the club and a shrewd Coach should see Atalanta avoid last season’s struggles.
Keep up to date with all the Serie A transfers with Football Italia's summer 2015 transfer table.