In the past few days, Mattia Caldara’s move to Juve and Roberto Gagliardini’s passage to Inter have been made official. Once more, two Atalanta-born talents have made it to Italy’s top flight, highlighting the quality and consistency of the team’s youth sector.
Although some players did in fact stick with Atalanta for a big part of their careers, it has always been difficult for the Bergamaschi to retain their major talents. Thus, follow us down memory lane as we reminisce Atalanta’s top 7 youth products to leave the club: (in chronological order)
1) Domenico Morfeo (signed by Fiorentina in 2001)
Entering the nerazzurri’s academy at the age of 14, Morfeo was to become one of Italy’s most crystalline, but also most unfulfilled, talents. Debuting for Atalanta in 1993, aged only 17, Morfeo went on to play 111 games, scoring 28 goals, for la Dea. After his passage to Fiorentina, Morfeo began to globe-trot around Italy, playing for the likes of Milan, Inter and, most famously, Parma, where he made a name for himself due to his superb assisting skills and his legendary partnership with Gilardino.
Here is one of Morfeo’s proverbial assists in Parma:
2) Giampaolo Pazzini (signed by Fiorentina in 2005)
Another one to leave in the direction of Firenze was Giampaolo Pazzini. Like Morfeo, Pazzini was somewhat of a globetrotter during his career (he currently plays for Hellas Verona in the Serie B and played for 6 different clubs). Nonetheless, Pazzini lived through some fantastic times and was once regarded one of the Serie A’s top strikers. Between 2003 and 2005, Il Pazzo played 56 games and scored 15 goals for Atalanta, convincing the Viola to sign him in 2005 for a fee of 6.5 million euros. The climax of Pazzini’s career was during his time at Sampdoria, where his partnership with Antonio Cassano enabled him to bag an impressive 48 goals in 87 matches for the Blucerchiati. Pazzini then had two overall successful stints with both Inter and Milan, and will surely be remembered as a significant Serie A striker.
Perhaps Pazzini’s best-ever game, on his debut for Inter (watch the whole video, it’s worth it, or else forward to 2:49 and 3:46 for Pazzini):
3) Riccardo Montolivo (signed by Fiorentina in 2005)
Correct me if I’m wrong, but we might have spotted some sort of trend. Together with Pazzini, in 2005, Fiorentina purchased yet another Atalanta prospect: Riccardo Montolivo, for a fee of 3.5 million. Little did they know that he would go on to become the club’s captain, playing as much as 260 games in Firenze. Once considered one of Italy’s best midfielders, Montolivo’s career has since gone slightly downhill: despite joining Milan in 2012 and becoming the rossoneri’s captain just one year later, Ricky is often subject to criticism from the fans. Admittedly, Montolivo hasn’t met the once-great expectations, but he remains a solid midfielder, with superb defensive qualities and good technical ability.
A quality finish from Montolivo, in a friendly match against Spain:
4) Manolo Gabbiadini (signed by Juventus/Sampdoria in 2012)
Currently regarded as one of the Italy’s best strikers, Gabbiadini is still very much in the prime of his career. Manolo joined Atalanta’s youth sector in 2003 and first caught the attention of Italy’s big clubs after a successful season on loan at Bologna, where he scored 6 league goals and played consistently well. Gabbiadini then left Bergamo for a fee of 11 million, split equally between Juve and Sampdoria. Two great seasons for Sampdoria then ensured his 12,5 million move to Napoli. Since then, Manolo hasn’t failed to show-off his impressive skills: especially with regards to technique and shooting ability. Nonetheless, he seems destined to leave Napoli, where he has struggled to find consistency and space. This said, Manolo is still very young (26) and, with his heaps of talent, we’re sure that his career is yet to take off.
Gabbiadini’s amazing shooting ability, for Napoli:
5) Giacomo Bonaventura (signed by Milan in 2014)
Jack Bonaventura is, without any doubt, Milan’s top player and one the Serie A’s finest midfielders. Hard working, intelligent and with an outstanding technical repertoire, Jack is perhaps the best product of Atalanta’s youth sector. When Milan signed him in 2014 for a mere 7 million, Bonaventura had collected 135 games for Atalanta, scoring 24 goals, making him a very prolific midfielder. Since then, Jack has imposed himself as a key player and leader for Milan, recently scoring the decisive goal to beat Juventus in the Supercoppa Italiana. Still relatively young, Bonaventura is sure to consolidate himself as an untouchable for the rossoneri and, perhaps, even for the National team.
Jack’s Supercoppa decider, to put Milan level with Juve:
6) Andrea Consigli (signed by Sassuolo in 2014)
Though often underrated and unnoticed, Consigli is one of the Serie A’s most solid goalkeepers. Born in Milan, Andrea joined Atalanta at the young age of 11 and, after loan spells in the Serie B, he consolidated his position as the team’s starting goalie. Becoming a true Atalanta legend, Consigli totalled 201 games in Bergamo, before leaving for Sassuolo (3 million fee). Known for his penalty-saving skills, with 13/46 saved in his career, Consigli is still only 29, relatively young for a goalkeeper, and will probably continue to be one of the league’s most reliable goalies for years to come.
Consigli’s best saves:
7) Daniele Baselli (signed by Torino in 2015)
The most recent product of Atalanta’s Primavera, prior to Caldara and Gagliardini, was Daniele Baselli, now a starter in Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Torino. A prolific box-to-box midfielder, Baselli attracted the likes of Milan and Napoli after an impressive two seasons for Atalanta between 2013 and 2015. Nonetheless, Torino were the quickest to snatch him from la Dea, for a fee of 6 million. Since then, Baselli has continued to demonstrate his goal-scoring abilities, bagging 9 goals for Toro and representing a constant threat with his attacking incursions. He is currently regarded as one the league’s best midfielders, both with regards to the present and to the future.
A cracking goal against Milan for Baselli, in the first game of the current season: