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Gasperini showed he deserves to be considered for Europe’s top jobs with Europa League win



The feat that Xabi Alonso has achieved in his first full season as a football manager will undeniably go down in history, but Wednesday night belonged to Gian Piero Gasperini and his Atalanta side.

Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen had gone 51 games unbeaten in all competitions this season, failing to lose a single league game on their way to winning the Bundesliga title.

But Leverkusen’s dreams of an unbeaten treble were crushed by Ademola Lookman and Atalanta on Wednesday night in Dublin in the Europa League final.

It seems a certainty that Alonso will go on to manage one of the world’s biggest clubs at some point in the future, but the Europa League final propelled another manager into the spotlight instead.

Modern football seems to have an obsession with younger managers. But at 66-years-old, the Italian ended Atalanta’s 61-year trophy drought, lifting the club’s first ever European silverware. That too is history, just like what Alonso has done at Leverkusen.

The way Gasperini set up his side to press Leverkusen and force them into mistakes paid off in a big way. His team never let up and made them uncomfortable all night long.

In his eight years at the club, Gasperini has led La Dea to their highest ever Serie A finish and qualified for the Champions League four times, a competition Atalanta had never played in before Gasperini took charge in Bergamo.

He has got a tune out of the likes of Lookman, whose spells at Fulham, Everton, and Leicester failed to bring much joy, as well as Gianluca Scamacca, the striker who struggled to settle at West Ham just last season.

Alonso has been credited for the wonders he was worked with players such as former Arsenal skipper Granit Xhaka, Jeremie Frimpong, and highly rated young German talent Florian Wirtz. The same energy should be given towards Gasperini’s achievements too.

Over the last four seasons, key players like Jeremie Boga, Merih Demiral, Cristian Romero, Rasmus Hojlund, Robin Gosens and Gianluca Mancini have all departed the club for large sums after progressing under Gasperini, meaning the Italian has constantly had to rebuild his side.

In Serie A, Atalanta have had another solid season and sit fifth in the table, two points behind Juventus who are fourth with just a game left to play, despite competing against teams with far bigger resources.

His only spell in charge of one of Europe’s traditionally big clubs in Inter Milan back in 2011 did not go to plan. But maybe it’s time for the man who guided Crotone to Serie B, Genoa to Serie A and Atalanta to the Champions League to be given another shot with one of Europe’s giants?

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