Looking into Atalanta's phenomenal transfer record

Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Atalanta BC v UC Sampdoria - Serie A
Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Enter caption Atalanta BC v UC Sampdoria - Serie A

In an age of ever-rising transfer fees and club owners with unlimited wealth, seeing a club like Atalanta compete at the top of the global game is refreshing. In each of their last three seasons, they have finished third in the Serie A.

In fact, they even reached the Champions League quarterfinals in the 2019-20 season. All this despite competing with clubs that have much higher resources and financial might. How do they do this?

Their transfer model is based on selling players that they either developed or bought for cheap. These outgoings are often quite expensive. This process is repeated over and over.

This works because Atalanta's scouting, especially outside the top-5 leagues and lower leagues, is top-notch.

Atalanta's acquisition of Jeremie Boga will cost them €22 million when his transfer becomes permanent next season. They have only spent more than €20 million only three times, including on this occasion. For a club that has had their level of success, this is phenomenal. Compared to this, they have received more than €20 million in nine of their sales.


Only Luis Muriel, Juan Musso and Boga cost over €20 million. The likes of Duvan Zapata, Teun Koopmeiners, Mario Pasalic, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Joakhim Maehle and Marten De Roon were all bought for a fee in the range of € 0-20 million in their current squad. Others like Josip Ilicic, Davide Zappacosta, Hans Hateboer, Luis Palomino, Berat Djimsiti, Rafael Toloi, Matteo Pessina and Remo Freuler cost less than €10 million each.

Ilicic and Zapata celebrating
Ilicic and Zapata celebrating

In contrast to their price, their effect has been immense. Zapata has contributed to 116 goals in 153 games while Ilicic has 104 goal contributions in 172 games. De Roon, Djimsiti, Freuler, Toloi, Hateboer and Palomino have all made more than 150 appearances.

Muriel has one of the best goal-per-minute ratios in Europe over the last few seasons. Newer signings like Malinovskyi, Maehle and Koopmeiners have been crucial this season.

Players like Alejandro Gomez and Robin Gosens, who have been very important for the club in the past, were also a part of the same model. Gomez was signed for €8 million and contributed 131 goals in 252 games. Gosens made 50 goal contributions from left wing-back after being bought for less than €1 million!


In attesa dell'ufficializzazione di Dejan #Kulusevski alla #Juve ecco le cessioni record 💰 dell'#Atalanta! Con lo 🇸🇪 destinato alla vetta... #calciomercato #TMmercato

When it comes to departures, the scenario is the exact opposite. Of their 10 most expensive sales, only Bryan Cristante, Mattia Caldara and Timothy Castagne had played more than 50 games for them.

Others like Dejan Kulusevski, Amad Diallo and Alessandro Bastoni didn't even have 10 first-team appearances for the club on their CV when they were sold. The three of them were sold for a combined €87 million.

Atalanta BC v Juventus - TIMVISION Cup Final
Atalanta BC v Juventus - TIMVISION Cup Final

This model has served them well. A good example is that of Cristian Romero. Juve had him in their books but didn't intend to use him. Atalanta loaned him in and he did very well for them.

So they then bought him for €16 million and instantly loaned him out to Spurs who have an option to buy for €50 million. To replace him, Atalanta have loaned in Merih Demiral who again wasn't getting much gametime at Juventus.

Worth reminding everyone that Andrea Agnelli, one of the main men behind this, once said that Atalanta don’t belong in the Champions League only to see Juventus not last in the competition longer than Atalanta for two consecutive years.

This sensible transfer approach is what makes Atalanta special and has enabled them to punch above their weight. This has ruffled a fair few feathers. “I have great respect for everything that Atalanta are doing, but without international history and thanks to just one great season, they had direct access into the primary European club competition. Is that right or not?” Juventus president Agnelli once said. Currently 5th in Serie A, 3 points behind but with a game in hand, it wouldn't be surprising if Atalanta pip Juventus to a Champions League spot this season.

Quick Links

Edited by S Chowdhury
Be the first one to comment