Atalanta manager responds to Liverpool job links ahead of Europa League quarter-final second leg

  • Speculation has linked Gian Piero Gasperini with Liverpool
  • Reds yet to decide on a successor to the departing Jurgen Klopp
  • His Atalanta team won 3-0 at Anfield in the Europa League
Speculation has linked Gian Piero Gasperini with Liverpool
Speculation has linked Gian Piero Gasperini with Liverpool / Enrico Locci/GettyImages

Gian Piero Gasperini is flattered by speculation linking him with Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp's successor but insists it is not something he is prepared to be distracted by.

Liverpool are yet to appoint a replacement for Klopp, who is stepping down at the end of the season, having prioritised building a fresh sporting structure above the new manager first.

Xabi Alonso ruled himself out of the running to stay with Bayer Leverkusen, leaving Sporting CP boss Ruben Amorim as the new frontrunner. The likes of Roberto De Zerbi and Julian Nagelsmann also remain linked. But suggestions that Liverpool could also consider 66-year-old Gasperini emerged in the wake of his Atalanta team demolishing the Reds at Anfield last week.

Preparing to face Liverpool again in the second leg of that Europa League quarter-final, Gasperini was asked the possibility of such a move.

"Of course, I am happy with links to the Liverpool job to replace Klopp but my focus is on the game. We can't be distracted by these kind of stories, we have to focus on the upcoming games," he said.

Initially building his coaching career in the youth ranks at Juventus in the 1990s, Gasperini has been with Atalanta since 2016 after previous jobs with Genoa, Inter and Palermo. He guided Atalanta, historically one of Italy's yo-yo clubs, to third place in Serie A in 2018/19 and then to the Champions League quarter-finals the following season, maintaining third place twice more to keep qualifying.

Gian Piero Gasperini
Atalanta won 3-0 at Anfield last week / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Gasperini's side won 2-0 at Anfield in the 2020/21 group stage and reached the last 16 against Real Madrid, while only late Cristiano Ronaldo goals denied them home and away wins over Manchester United in 2021/22. In this season's Europa League, Atalanta topped their group ahead of Amorim's Sporting CP, winning in Lisbon, and then knocked them out after being paired in the last 16.

The veteran Italian hasn't been a core part of the discussion for Liverpool officials, with his sudden links to the job instead coming from his record in recent years being talked up in the media. Speaking after Atalanta's first leg win at Anfield, Serie A expert James Horncastle waxed lyrical on TNT Sports.

"There's a big vacancy here [at Liverpool] in the summer and that guy, Gian Piero Gasperini, doesn't get talked about," Horncastle said. "In eight years he's probably punched above his weight per his resources more than any other coach. I think he should be in the conversation for more of these jobs.

"We've spent the last six weeks talking about Xabi Alonso coming here, Amorim coming here. This guy beat Amorim home and away at Sporting. He went four games against them unbeaten. He's shown he can build and rebuild teams. He's been there eight years, three different [Atalanta] teams."