Pasalic: ‘Chelsea or Atalanta future?’

by | Sep 22, 2018 09:38

Mario Pasalic is grateful to former club Milan, but is still trying to decide if Atalanta or Chelsea will be his future. “I need to figure out my level.”

It kicks off on Sunday at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT), click here for a match preview.

This is a reunion for the Chelsea-owned midfielder, who spent the 2016-17 season at Milan, then had another loan spell at Spartak Moscow before his latest switch to Bergamo.

Mario Pasalic is grateful to former club Milan, but is still trying to decide if Atalanta or Chelsea will be his future. “I need to figure out my level.”

It kicks off on Sunday at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT), click here for a match preview.

This is a reunion for the Chelsea-owned midfielder, who spent the 2016-17 season at Milan, then had another loan spell at Spartak Moscow before his latest switch to Bergamo.

“I had decided to stay at Milan after we won the Coppa Italia, which is the only trophy I’ve won other than the Croatian Cup, but then the club ownership changed and my destiny changed with it,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I wandered around the Milanello training ground, enchanted by all the pictures of legends on the wall, and thought to myself: ‘A pity, this could’ve been the right club for me, at least for one more great year.’

“I’ve been around too many cities, too many teams, and it’s a struggle when you’re always on loan. I’d like a club where I can stay for two or three years, so I can understand what I can really do. If it’s not Chelsea, then I hope it’s Atalanta.”

It could well be, because Atalanta have as part of their loan deal an option to buy for €15m, with contract signed until 2022.

“Competition is healthy, as it reminds you that if you don’t give your all, there is enough quality to push you out of the line-up. I think I gave my best in a Number 8 role, which is why I chose shirt Number 88 with Atalanta, but this new position a little wider allows me more of an opportunity to score goals and provide assists.

“Being versatile isn’t always good, as you do question whether it’d be better to focus on one role, but then you realise that it gives you more opportunities to play.

“I’ve never worked so hard as with Gian Piero Gasperini. It’s good for my physique, as I’m in great shape.”

Pasalic learned a great deal from these two spells in Serie A football.

“Milan made me understand what it means to feel the pressure of playing in a huge stadium, but also taught me to be a better person as well as a player.

“I’m sorry for the Rossoneri, but this game is too important for Atalanta. Football doesn’t recognise gratitude and I know that more than most.

“I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that being left out of the Croatia squad for the World Cup was hurtful. The Coach made his decision and he was right in the end, but he could’ve at least explained the reasons to me.”

Chelsea sacked Antonio Conte and brought in Maurizio Sarri just before Pasalic was sent out on loan again.

“I watch them every now and then. In a week with them training in Australia, I got to breathe in the Sarri style of football: quality and aggression, possession and pressing, all combined beautifully.

“I don’t regret leaving, because what good would it have done me to sit on the bench? I don’t belong at Chelsea right now, or at any top club, because I still need to figure out if I can reach that level. I can’t do that without playing regularly for two or three years.

“I might return to Chelsea, I might realise that Atalanta is my big club, but either way I don’t want to make the wrong decision.”

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