Italian coach comments on relations between Russian and Ukrainian teammates — RT Sport News


Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini spoke about the friendship between Alexey Miranchuk and Ruslan Malinovskyi

Atalanta teammates Alexey Miranchuk and Ruslan Malinovskyi have maintained a strong friendship despite coming from countries opposed to the Ukraine crisis, coach Gian Piero Gasperini has said.

Russian international Miranchuk and Ukraine midfielder Malinovskyi both play for the Serie A side and featured in the Europa League win over German side Bayer Leverkusen in Italy on Thursday night.

Malinovskyi started the game, scoring the first of Atalanta’s goals and providing two assists in their 3-2 win, while Miranchuk came on as a substitute in the 77th minute.

A banner in the stands of the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia in Bergamo was unveiled by fans showing images of the two players in front of their respective national flags and shaking hands.

Atalanta boss Gasperini has admitted the situation in Ukraine has affected Malinovskyi but his friendship with Miranchuk remains.

“He and his family are going through something” Gasperini told Sky Sport Italia.

“We spend a lot of time as a team watching the news. It may have shaken us even more than Covid, and it hit Bergamo hard.

“Obviously he still has family and friends there. We are also close with Miranchuk. It’s an amazing friendship they have, Miranchuk almost feels embarrassed by the situation.

“People matter more than flags and borders, he’s a good boy and he deserves respect too,” added the 64-year-old.

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Miranchuk, 26, signed for Atalanta from Lokomotiv Moscow in September 2020, in a deal worth 14.5 million euros ($15.9 million).

Malinovskyi, 28, has been at the Italian club since 2019, when he joined Belgian side Genk in a move believed to be valued at just over €13.5million.

The Ukraine international has since contributed 29 goals and 23 assists in 118 appearances for the Italians.

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