Pierluigi Gollini went from a starting goalkeeper in the Championship to claiming a Serie A shutout in the space of a few months.
After Roberto Di Matteo was sacked, Gollini found his chances limited at Villa Park and even more so when Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was signed on loan. While Johnstone failed to impress for Villa straight away, the young Englishman has got his ‘sea legs’ underneath him and is now a fairly solid, if unspectacular option in the Villa Park net. Gollini on the other hand was loaned to Atalanta, where he has pretty much just sat on the bench.
Gollini has only made one appearance for Atalanta and that came following a forced change after La Dea let in seven goals in a clash with Inter Milan. Gollini kept a clean sheet for Atalanta against Serie A basement side Pescara. Gollini’s situation at Atalanta is interesting, as another loanee, Etrit Berisha, claimed the number one jersey for Atalanta with some impressive performances, and was all but set to sign until a disastrous outing against Inter. Gollini was called up to the senior team and obviously kept his clean sheet - but it’s still a shaky squad status for the young Italian who might be benchwarming for a while in Serie A.
However, it’s not so simple that Gollini can be called back to Aston Villa once Johnstone’s loan expires. Gollini moved to Aston Villa with a number of promises (a number of promises that Villa accepted, mind you) only for those promises to collapse when Roberto Di Matteo was sacked. The chief among these was to have an Italian goalkeeping coach - which isn’t a bad prospect if you look at keepers like Buffon, Donnarumma, Scuffet and Alex Meret.
While many would call Gollini spoiled - it is worth remembering that he signed a contract based on verbal promises, which Villa have reneged on, and he has every right to be angry with Aston Villa for doing that.
However, as the Italian clubs like Milan attempt to lock down their generational talents - Juventus; the current Serie A champions, are scouring the globe for a replacement to Gianluigi Buffon who is set to retire within the next four seasons. Gollini stands out as a good prospect, especially if Juve can put him right under the wing of one of the world’s greatest at the goalkeeping position.
The big losers in all of this? It might be Aston Villa who have driven down the value of a keeper that other clubs might have paid a lot for. For Aston Villa, it’s just yet another case of bad business.