Bergamo supporters no longer know which way to turn: the opinion of great cold between coach Gian Piero Gasperini and captain "Papu" Gomez, two emblems of Atalanta, weighs down the end of the year with a team that seems to be going through its first growth crisis.
The last two matches of 2020 - against AS Rome on Sunday and then in Bologna on Wednesday - will they also be the last of the Argentine international, who has become an idol in Bergamo, in the nerazzurro jersey?
Speculations have been rife since the message posted earlier this week by the "Papu": "dear supporters, I am writing to you because I have no other way to defend myself (...). I just wanted you say that when I leave you will know the truth about everything, "he wrote to his 2.4 million Instagram followers, signing" your captain. "
A few days earlier, Gasperini had had to dismiss rumors of resignation due to these tensions, after the victory against Ajax Amsterdam (1-0), synonymous with qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Gasperini-Gomez, it is a major axis of the success of the last seasons which falters in Bergamo.
- Altercation at break -
According to the indiscretions of the Gazzetta dello Sport, the tensions arose from a desire of the demanding coach to reposition his leader.
To "Papu", whose freedom was almost total until now, he asked to be located higher on the ground, to disperse less, to better manage his energy in this busy autumn.
The conflict would have reached its climax at half-time in the Champions League match against Midtjylland (1-1) on December 1: the captain had been replaced at the break, it seems after an altercation with his coach.
Since then, the Argentine has played little, left once at home and twice on the bench.
His only tenure was against Ajax on December 9, in the name of the essential qualification to be validated.
A real revolution at Atalanta: the "Papu" was so far in almost all matches.
He fully blossomed in the offensive game promoted by the "Gasp", who found in the Argentine a handyman, hard to score for his opponents, formidable passer and scorer (involved in 130 goals since 2014, 59 as a goalscorer, 71 as a passer).
After the start of the fire season, however, it has experienced a marked decline since October.
What some attribute to his return to the selection since this fall, forcing him to long trips and depriving him of precious beaches of recovery during the international breaks.
- Several possible destinations -
"Gomez has been the most important player for us over the past five years, but I have to think about what is best for the team," said Gasperini, while Atalanta is behind in the league (8th).
"You have to keep innovating to be competitive," he added, hinting that other attacking midfielders, like Ukrainian Ruslan Malinovsky or Russian Alexeï Miranchuk, could play more often.
According to the press, President Antonio Percassi would have accepted the idea of seeing Gomez leave in January.
Several Italian clubs are said to be on the lookout, including AC Milan, but the Paris SG of his compatriot Angel Di Maria has also been cited as a possible destination.
Still, many things remain unclear, starting with the amount that Atalanta will claim for a player who will certainly soon be 33 years old but is still under contract until 2022. The Bergamasque club should not let a player, estimated at some 15 million euros by the specialized site Transfermarkt.
Difficult to completely exclude that the Atalanta "family" does not succeed in settling the crisis and that we find the "Papu" in black and blue for the double shock to come against Real Madrid, in the eighth of C1 in February-March next .
With the desire, as he wrote on Instagram after the victory in Amsterdam, to "continue to write the history of this club".
© 2020 AFP