A solitary strike from Mario Pašalić, a “former” Chelsea player, would have been enough to take Atalanta into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, but the brilliance of PSG stopped their dream at the dearth.
Pasalic who left Chelsea last year made his stay at Bergamo-based Atalanta permanent last month after an initial loan agreement with a buy-option.
The Croatian was never really close to getting the first-team jersey since arriving from Hajduk Split as a teenager. But spending six years on Chelse’s book makes him an ex-Chelsea player.
Atalanta exercised their €15m buyout clause and he showed the entire world what a bargain that was in this year’s Champions League Cinderella story died a gruesome death in Portugal.
Atalanta, who is making their debut in the top European clubs’ competition was about to secure a semi-final berth over PSG, but two goals in two minutes in added-on time turned the match around, and the Paris club advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1994.
La Dea took the first-half lead courtesy of Pašalić’s sweet finish, but eventually ran out of steam and ran out of luck.
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Chelsea have habits of discarding promising talents like Mario Pašalić and others
Although PSG were the “deserved” winners, Pašalić had been substituted by the time they got their equalizer and winning goals.
Looking at such performance from the Croatian, one can remember how Chelsea has been loaning out promising talents they would eventually discard too early. One of such that quickly comes to mind apart from Pasalic is Kevin De Bruyne, who has been an important player for Manchester City and had punished his former clubs on many occasions.
According to the available stats, Chelsea had between 2011 and 2014 loaned out many players like Pašalić, and most of them eventually gone on to find tremendous success elsewhere instead.
Although Chelsea succeded in keeping faith with Thibaut Courtois, Kurt Zouma, and Andreas Christensen, but they failed with Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Thorgan Hazard, Mohamed Salah, and Bertrand Traoré.
Other of notable mention include Christian Atsu, Kenneth Omeruo, Patrick Bamford, Kasey Palmer, amongst others even from their Academy youth.
However, the case of Pasalic could be termed an exemption, unlike the aforementioned ones. The teenager was restricted by the work permit system. Although Croatia became an EU member in 2013, Croatian nationals were still required to apply for work permits in the UK until 2018.
Being a cheap signing (£2-3m), Pašalić, who wasn’t capped for Croatia regularly until 2017 was unable to secure a work permit at least initially and Chelsea didn’t seem to try very hard to get him one.
He finally got his chance to show his mettle in the team in the summer of 2018 during the preseason trip to Australia but was sent back on loan shortly afterward. After arriving at Atalanta, he settled and became an important player. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Pasalic scored 12 goals in 47 matches. He also has a total of 75 shots, of which 20 were shots on goal and a completed pass of 88 percent.
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