'They had one good season' - Atalanta not worthy of Champions League spot, says Juventus president Agnelli

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Free-scoring Atalanta have won friends at home and abroad for their exploits over the last few seasons, but they have not impressed Juventus president Andrea Agnelli. 

The Bergamo side clinched the third of Serie A's four qualification places for the Champions League in 2019-20, thanks in part to the goalscoring heroics of Duvan Zapata who smashed 23 goals to finish ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in the top scorer table. 

All indications suggest that they are on course to have an equally successful campaign this time round as they sit in fourth place, three points clear of Roma in fifth. 

Atalanta were also the only Italian team to win their first leg in the Champions League last 16, with a 4-1 thrashing of Valencia that leaves them well-placed to reach the quarter-finals. 

But Agnelli, whose Juve side went down to Lyon, argues that they should not be rubbing shoulders with Europe's elite in the first place.

“I have great respect for everything that Atalanta are doing, but without international history and thanks to just one great season, they had direct access into the primary European club competition. Is that right or not?” Agnelli told the FT Business of Football Summit in London.

“Then I think of Roma, who contributed in recent years to maintaining Italy’s ranking. They had one bad season and are out, with all the consequent damage to them financially."

Agnelli has been one of the most vocal proponents in recent years of the formation of a European Super League, which would ring-fence the top level of continental competition to a select number of clubs and restrict entry for the likes of Atalanta. 

But he insists that such moves are necessary in order to avoid big losses when the so-called giants fail to make the grade on the pitch.

“We must also protect investment and costs. So would Atalanta therefore have less chance of playing at a high level?" he pondered

"I don’t have the answer to that, it’s just about setting up a transparent process to make this decision.

“There are teams who won the league or cup and achieve qualification just on the basis of their country’s ranking. The point is how we balance the contribution to European football and the performance of a single year.”