Atalanta impressed everyone following Serie A last year by finishing fourth in the league. At the centre of their success was their approach of trusting young players to drive the team forward. Players like Andrea Conti, Mattia Caldara, Leonardo Spinazzola, Roberto Gagliardini, Franck Kessie and Andrea Petagna thrived in the circumstances under the guidance of the meticulous coach Gian Piero Gasperini and inspired the club to its highest ever league finish. Obviously, this attracted the attention of bigger clubs and Conti (Milan), Caldara (joins Juventus in 2018), Gagliardini (Inter) as well as Kessie (Milan) have already moved on.
Therefore, Gasperini needs a new generation to replace them. One of the players brought in is the 20-year-old forward Riccardo Orsolini who joins Atalanta on loan from Juventus. Orsolini caught the eye in Serie B for Ascoli last term with tricky wide play and eight goals in the league. Those performances prompted Juve to sign him in January but Orsolini remained at Ascoli until the end of the season. After impressing at the U20 World Cup for Italy, scoring five goals at the tournament, Orsolini was loaned out to Atalanta to earn valuable experience in the top flight. Atalanta also have an option to buy the forward at the completion of his two year loan.
Orsolini is a very talented attacker who’s spent the majority of his fledgling career as a right winger. His pace, trickery and creativity sees him naturally fit the role perfectly and his dribbling ability is certain to entertain Atalanta fans.
As any young attacker, Orsolini needs maturing and his decision making can certainly improve which can be seen in the video. The raw ability is there though, and also the confidence to take on opponents in many different ways.
Orsolini’s creativity comes to the attention when we look at the next video compilation below. These assists show that he can be seen regularly making more mature decisions and his ability to pick out teammates in the box will be something capitalised on by the likes of Alejandro Gomez and Andrea Petagna at Atalanta.
Where Orsolini is most impressive though is his goalscoring. Stationed on the right, Orsolini highlights remarkable intelligence in the way he makes runs into the box to get on the end of crosses and passes. Orsolini’s pace is helpful of course, but if he wouldn’t know where to run and, crucially, when to make the run, his pace would make no difference. He reads the game well and finds the correct positions very often and his finishing technique is sublime. He finishes equally well with both his left-foot and his head which makes him ideal for Gasperini’s men.
As you see, almost every goal is scored with passes from left to right where Orsolini attacks the empty space. He’s got the intelligence, the technique and the pace which put together makes him a very dangerous attacker.
How will he fit in at Atalanta though?
Well, that’s the question isn’t it? Stylistically, Orsolini seems perfect. Gasperini implements a 3-4-3 where the wider forwards are stationed in the half-space with the wing-back marshalling the wide area. This will be a slight change for Orsolini since he’s usually been deployed as the winger which gives him more space, but the transition shouldn’t be too difficult given his attributes and intelligence. The high-tempo football should suit him and his pace will make him ideal for the quick counter-attacks Gasperini’s men are known for.
The problem will be to even get on the pitch given the tough competition for places. Jasmin Kurtic held down the position last year and was superb. Atalanta have also added former Fiorentina trequartista Josip Ilicic to the squad this summer. Gomez and Petagna are certain to start as the left forward and central striker respectively leaving one spot for Kurtic, Ilicic and Orsolini to fight for. The positive is that Atalanta will have European football with their qualification for the Europa League which gives them more games so Orsolini should get a chance and then it is up to him to take it.
If he does, we might be looking at the next talent breaking out to the wider public in the colours of Atalanta.