There was a time when German internationals plying their trade in Italy was a common occurrence with the likes of Lothar Matthäus, Andreas Brehme, Jürgen Klinsmann, and Andreas Möller all playing their club football in Serie A. Those stars however had risen through the Bundesliga, proving their worth before sealing a big money move to the home of Catenaccio and Calcio.
Nowadays the export trend in the Bundesliga is very much in the direction of the Premier League, but ahead of September’s internationals against Spain and Switzerland Bundestrainer Joachim Löw has handed a first call up to Atalanta’s Robin Gosens, whose career path has been anything but orthodox for a German international.
Atalanta have been one of the surprise packages in European football over the past 12 months making it all the way to the Champions League quarter finals and 26-year-old German defender Gosens has been a key element in that success. Born in Emmerich am Rhein on the German/ Dutch border to a Dutch father and German mother, he began playing youth football in Germany before being scouted and signing for Vitesse Arnhem. He had previously had a trial with Borussia Dortmund but described it as a fiasco as he “couldn’t keep up.”
His time at Vitesse was a disappointment too as he didn’t make any first team appearances before being loaned to Dordrecht. Two seasons later he joined Heracles Almelo on a free transfer and stayed with the Heraclieden until 2017 having established himself as a first team regular at left back.
His move to Italy was somewhat of a surprise, but Atalanta were a midtable side at the time and far from a glamorous side like Juventus, Inter or Milan. His first season was one of adapting and finding his feet, but this past season has been a real breakout. Trainer Gian Piero Gasperini’s 3-4-1-2 system with Gosens employed as an attacking left wing back has seen the player really blossom.
The Nerazzurri finished third in Serie A, but were leading scorers with 98 goals (22 more than champions Juventus). Gosens proved invaluable with nine goals and seven assists as a near ever-present. His combination of defensive and offensive talents makes him a valuable asset and one which Joachim Löw wants to tie to the German national team. Gosens is also eligible to play for the Netherlands and the Dutch have also put out feelers to persuade him to play for the country of his father.
Having cost Atalanta just €900,000, his transfer valuation has soared to €27 million, but that has not put off a host of suitors this summer. Juventus and Inter have been linked, Chelsea are reportedly very keen on the left back and Hertha Berlin have also been mentioned. Strangely, Schalke were reported to have agreed personal terms last summer but refused to meet Atalanta’s €11 million asking price.