Percassi: ‘De Ketelaere will stay with Atalanta, I’m confident about Gasperini’


Atalanta president Antonio Percassi says he’s confident about keeping both Gian Piero Gasperini and Charles De Ketelaere at the club. La Dea lifted the Europa League trophy on Wednesday evening, and after the match, he spoke with La Gazzetta dello Sport about a magical night in the clubs history, and his hopes for the future of his team:

President, how many hours of sleep did you get last night?

“I flew back during the night, so I didn’t sleep at all: just like when we used to go dancing, except back then you only had to think about having fun. But I never sleep after games anyway.”

When was the last time you cried like that?

“It happens quite often: Atalanta is the most emotional of our businesses. But this time we touched the sky: a stellar performance.”

You’ve gone under the curva more times this year than in your entire presidency…

“The fans deserve to feel like I’m one of them: I am a fan, and then I’m also the president. I’m grateful because the incredible support they give us deserves respect, just like the financial sacrifices they make: proportionally, they’re equal to ours.”

You once said that taking over Atalanta was a crazy idea. Did you feel less crazy the other night?

“It’s been a difficult, complicated story, full of effort and investment. But it’s a craziness that rewards you, and last night it was wonderful to say: ‘Look how far we’ve come!’”

When did you start believing in this cup?

“The night at Anfield I thought: ‘I can’t believe it, but now we have to believe it.’”

What’s the nicest compliment you’ve received since Wednesday night?

“I’ve gotten messages from people I haven’t heard from in ages, but let me tell you this: Ceferin was sitting near me at the stadium, and I was doing my usual running commentary, talking to my players from the stands. Every now and then I’d turn to him and apologize: ‘I have to do it, even if they can’t hear me.’ I was a bit embarrassed: ‘He must think I’m not normal.’ But he was very amused.”

When you chose your son Luca as CEO, you gave him a mission: ‘Keep Atalanta in Serie A for ten years.’ Let’s say he’s exceeded expectations…

“Not speaking as a father, he’s a highly respected football professional with his own method and attitude. He’s grown a lot, and I’m very grateful to him: first and foremost for the work he’s done with the youth sector, the first brick I told him he had to lay.”

Scalvini, Ruggeri, and Carnesecchi: three Zingonia products with the cup in hand.

“It’s wonderful, the closing of a circle.”

When you chose Gasperini, did you ever think you had picked such a phenomenon?

“No, but after four defeats in the first five matches, I stood by him, even against the fans: I had seen him work on the pitch.”

As a former defender, what did you think when you learned that Gasperini would play with three forwards against Bayer?

“That he was right: the right choice against a team that had never lost. If the guys are in good shape, that’s the perfect system to attack. Because it’s there, in attack, where you make the difference, as the coach says.”

A Lookman like this, have you ever seen? Unstoppable?

“Just like I had often seen him in training: he drives you crazy, always catches you at the right moment.”

Which of your defenders do you see yourself in the most?

“Maybe Kolasinac, because he knows when to make a tough tackle.”

What kind of Atalanta will it take to play in five competitions?

“A team suited to the additional and exciting commitments that have been added. We’ve never shied away from keeping it competitive.”

And you need a coach like Gasperini?

“I’ll repeat what I said yesterday: we’ll meet and talk, but I’m confident.”

Can you still turn down 50-60 million for Koopmeiners?

“Only if it aligns with a strategy necessary for a provincial club that always needs to keep its finances in order. But if you make a deal, it’s because you have an equivalent replacement: we’re not foolish to sell key players without a safety net for Atalanta.”

De Ketelaere is worth the buyout price, right?

“We like him, he’s doing well: we’ll continue together.”

Many are asking: was the Dea of Papu, Ilicic, and Zapata stronger than this one?

“Two different but equivalent teams. The Atalanta of Dublin has now reached that level, but with one more cup. Which doesn’t hurt…”


Serie A obsessive.