Atalanta boss regrets Cristiano Ronaldo’s Italian exit

Atalanta's Italian coach Gian Piero Gasperini attends a training session on November 1, 2021 at the club's training ground in Zingonia, near Bergamo, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match between Atalanta and Manchester United. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini expressed regret on Monday at Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to quit Serie A for Manchester United, describing the Portuguese star as “an incredible goalscoring machine”.

Gasperini was speaking on the eve of United’s Champions League visit to Atalanta which marks the 35-year-old Ronaldo’s first appearance in Italy since his return to Old Trafford.

Gasperini’s side have already suffered at his hands this season.

Ronaldo rounded off United’s fightback from 2-0 down to Atalanta in their Champions League clash at Old Trafford a fortnight ago to score their third nine minutes from time in the 3-2 win.

“I can only say that he’s an extraordinary player but that sounds too banal,” said Gasperini.

“What he’s doing again at Manchester, you only have to look at his goal on Saturday (against Tottenham) and the others he’s already scored, he’s an incredible goalscoring machine.”

The Atalanta boss said even if it cost his club goals “I’d prefer that he’d stayed in Italy because you always want to see the best players here”.

After three seasons at Juventus, winning two league titles and finishing last season as top scorer, Ronaldo caught the football world on the hop when rejecting Manchester City’s overtures to sign for his old club.

Atalanta’s Colombian striker Duvan Zapata, appearing at the same online press conference, added: “He’s a top player, of the very highest quality.

“We can’t give away many chances to him, nor any of his team.”

Atalanta share second place in Group F, two points behind leaders United.

“We know we have to take six more points to make it almost mathematically certain to qualify.

“So a win is very important, any other outcome will leave things up in the air,” commented Gasperini ahead of Tuesday’s game in Bergamo.

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