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Atalanta exodus? Who could leave as team risk being picked apart like Ajax

As distraught Atalanta players trudged from the Estadio da Luz turf on Wednesday evening, perhaps their misery was compounded by thoughts of the closing of an era.

The plucky Italian side have undoubtedly been the surprise package of this season’s Champions League campaign, after playing free-scoring, firebrand football and surging to the quarter-final stage as a result.

But for an agonisingly late PSG resurgence in Lisbon, Gian Piero Gaspirini and his men would be busy preparing for a dizzying semi-final appearance.

Atalanta almost rewrote the script to pull off a shock victory, only for two last-gasp PSG goals 

Atalanta players looked distraught at full-time after throwing away one-goal lead in injury time

Atalanta players looked distraught at full-time after throwing away one-goal lead in injury time

But the football gods intervened, and the Parisians progressed courtesy of a late Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting winner. And, now, Atalanta find themselves dealing with this heavy pain while also noticing the sharks swirling.

Several of the senior team stars are wanted across the continent, as Atalanta face the real risk of having their talent picked off following a season of glory – just like Monaco, and most recently Ajax, had done before them.

Sportsmail takes at the possible moves and shakes as Atalanta face a busy summer… 

Duvan Zapata

The Colombian striker is Atalanta’s top goalscorer this season, and has shown both killer finishing and a strong positional awareness.

In 28 Serie A matches he has 18 goals and six assists, and provides a focal point up front which the Italians mold their play around.

Though he will turn 30 next April, the powerful forward has one more big move in him.

The Colombian striker is Atalanta's top goalscorer and wanted across Europe as a result

The Colombian striker is Atalanta’s top goalscorer and wanted across Europe as a result

A series of clubs have been linked with his services, with a Premier League introduction via West Ham firmly on the cards.

The Hammers have been linked, though face being out-muscled by much more formidable foe.

Juventus are said to have already made in move in for Zapata, while Atletico Madrid are reported in the Spanish media to be willing to pay over £40million for his services. 

Josip Ilicic

Atalanta badly missed another of their top scoring stars against PSG, as Ilicic was absent having travelled back to Slovenia.

The 32-year-old has found the back of the net domestically on 15 occasions this season, from 26 matches played.

He also scored a hugely impressive five goals in seven matches during this season’s Champions League run.

Though not all appears to be in check with Ilicic, who is reported to have traveled back to his homeland following personal struggles. 

The forward is yet to return to Italy and Atalanta have given no indication when he will do so. Speculation is now mounting regarding his possible retirement from football, or requesting to join a team closer to home. 

Atalanta badly missed Ilicic against PSG, and there are now fears he has played his final game

Atalanta badly missed Ilicic against PSG, and there are now fears he has played his final game

Mario Pasalic

The 25-year-old scored the opening goal against PSG and looked all but set to propel his team through.

So impressed was he by Pasalic’s performance that pundit Rio Ferdinand said Chelsea had been ‘crazy’ to sell him on.

Pasalic was snapped up by the Blues in 2014 as an exciting young talent, though went entirely wasted at Stamford Bridge following five loan spells and zero appearances made. 

Mario Pasalic dazzled PSG, causing Rio Ferdinand to label Chelsea 'crazy' for letting him leave

Mario Pasalic dazzled PSG, causing Rio Ferdinand to label Chelsea ‘crazy’ for letting him leave

Following his loan with Atalanta the club are taking up their option to buy permanently. 

Over the last 18-months the Croatian has developed into a highly competent footballer, adding goals and assists to his game, and this in turn has started to catch attention.

Inter Milan have been linked with a move, while whispers have also started to emerge regarding Everton interest. 

Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez

The very definition of a late bloomer, Gomez has been simply sensational for the side from Bergamo and a driving force.

Gomez pulls the strings for his side and keeps Atalanta stocked in both tempo and momentum.

In 34 Serie A appearances he has provided a huge 16 assists, putting him among the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Lionel Messi and Trent Alexander-Arnold in Europe’s top five divisions.

Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez makes this Atalanta side tick and is one of Europe's assist masters

Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez makes this Atalanta side tick and is one of Europe’s assist masters

A further two assists have been conjured on European duty, while Gomez has scored a collective eight goals this season.

Turning 33 next February, Gomez is entering the latter period of his career. Under Gasperini however things just seem to have clicked.

Interest has mounted as a result, with European sides noting his many qualities and seeing his age as a opportunity to engineer a cut-price move. 

Premier League new-boys Leeds United have been tipped to make an enquiry, while Gomez is also reported to have suitors in La Liga.

Amad Traore

One negative of Atalanta’s success – for them, anyway – is that the club is observed at a much greater degree.

It is for this reason why the club may be set to lose a starlet who has hardly even played for the senior side.

At just 17, the highly talented Traore is making a name for himself and all eyes are starting to peer down curiously.

Young gem and Serie A record-breaker Amad Traore is firmly on the radar of Europe's elite

Young gem and Serie A record-breaker Amad Traore is firmly on the radar of Europe’s elite

Traore made Serie A history earlier in the 2019-20 season, after coming off the bench to make his Atalanta debut in the final 13 minutes during October’s meeting with Udinese.

After picking the ball up 40 yards out, Traore drove towards goal before unleashing a blistering effort to put the finishing seal on an emphatic 7-1 victory. In doing so he became the league’s youngest ever goal-scoring debutant and the first player born in 2002 to find the net in Serie A.

Manchester United, Juventus and Arsenal have all each scouted the player and are queuing up to make offers.

…and Gasperini himself!

Nobody is safe following a sublime season, and even Gasperini has watchful eyes upon him.

The 62-year-old has earned many admirers with the way he has set up his Atalanta team, to make the most of their natural physical capabilities and play incisive, methodical football on the break.

Following their finish outside the top four, Roma have been linked with a move to install Gasperini at the helm. 

A strong conclusion to the season with four consecutive victories, however, appears to have given boss Paulo Fonseca breathing space and he will be allowed the start of the coming campaign to prove himself.

Gasperini has also been tipped for a possible switch to take charge in the Premier League. 

Gian Piero Gasperini earned many admirers for the way he has squeezed the most from his side

Gian Piero Gasperini earned many admirers for the way he has squeezed the most from his side

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