Media in Italy reported that the 32-year-old forward arrived at Atalanta on Monday and he was warmly welcomed by some fans of the club who gathered at the club Zingonia training ground.
Since then, Atalanta has not made any official statement regarding the arrival of Josip Ilicic. However, the manager of the club, Gian Piero Gasperini has said the Slovenia international is not expected to participate in the club’s pre-season training.
This could mean that Ilicic is still receiving special attention but the club has already made a backup plan in case he fails to return to football before September 26 when the club will play their first Serie A match against Torino. The backup plan for the club is the signing of 24-year-old Russia forward, Aleksei Miranchuk.
The Russian international is expected to stand in for Josip Ilicic at least from the beginning of Atalanta’s Italian Serie A campaign. But if the Russian forward can prove himself beyond what Ilicic did in the 2019-2020 season, he could give coach Gian Piero Gasperini fewer reasons to worry about the return of Ilicic.
Before Josip Ilicic returned to Atalanta:
Josip Ilicic was having the best of his football career until after he led Atalanta to drew with Juventus 2-2 on July 12. After the match, coach Gian Piero Gasperini confirmed that Ilicic would not be available for their subsequent matches due to an unspecific personal reason.
Before then, Josip Ilicic had already scored 21 goals and made 9 assists to become the club’s highest goalscorer of the season. He also helped the club to break into the 3rd spot on the Italian Serie A table. More so, he led Atalanta to scale through the round of 16 in the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League campaign.
Unfortunately, the personal reason that took Ilicic from the club in July kept him away even when his team faced Paris Saint Germain in the quarter-final stage of the Champions League. Atalanta lost the match 2-1.
Josip Ilicic’s saga: what the world thought happened.
When the world got to know that Josip Ilicic was no longer available for Atalanta, the rumor that sparked out was that Ilicic caught his wife Tina Polovina with another man on their matrimonial bed in Slovenia.
In less than a week after the viral rumor broke out, Ilicic took to his Instagram story to post a picture where he posed beside his alleged estranged wife, meaning that the personal reason that took him out of football was not connected with the reported unfaithfulness of Polovina.