For the second summer in a row, Atalanta has seen a defender they took from Juventus on loan and made his deal permanent a little under 12 months later.
First it was Cristian Romero. Now, a year later, it’s Merih Demiral.
In what turned out to be a relatively surprising move based on what we heard just a few short days ago, Atalanta announced Friday night that they have exercised the option to buy Demiral outright from Juventus for a reported €20 million. This comes after reports earlier in the week made it look like Atalanta were not going to take up the option to buy Demiral, who was then set to return to Juventus with a relatively uncertain immediate future waiting for him.
Instead, Demiral will — at least for now — be a Atalanta player in full, with there still very much being some uncertainty about who he plays for next season because they could pull another move like they did with Romero, who they bought outright from Juve last summer before flipping him to Tottenham for a very nice profit.
There have been a handful of Premier League clubs thrown out there over the last few days that could be interested in signing Demiral this summer, so it’s something you can’t rule out, right? Especially so when you consider Atalanta won’t have money from European football coming in next season.
But to see this sudden turn go from “Yeah, there’s no way Atalanta is going to pick up the option on Demiral” to this thing becoming official and Demiral fully becoming an Atalanta player, it’s pretty surprising. I know there was a dance off if Atalanta would or wouldn’t actually buy Demiral outright, and these last couple of days of reporting by the big names within the Italian media only prove that.
The likelihood of Demiral coming back to Juventus this summer never really seemed like a possibility to begin with. Because of his desire to seek starter-level minutes and is coming off a 2021-22 season in which he played nearly 2,000 minutes in Serie A alone with Atalanta. With Matthijs de Ligt and new club captain Leonardo Bonucci around, Demiral would have entered the season as Juventus’ No. 3 center back and the guarantee of stater’s minutes wouldn’t have been there.
All of that is moot now. Demiral is an Atalanta player (for the time being) and Juventus has some money to hopefully spend on a defender to help the defensive line get a little younger. While the route in which we’ve taken to get this point was a little interesting, we’ve definitely reached the most likely outcome.