Denmark international Joakim Maehle has made a scathing attack on Gian Piero Gasperini, describing the coaching style of the Atalanta tactician as dictatorial after departing the Bergamo club and Serie A during the past summer transfer window.

The 26-year-old joined German club VfL Wolfsburg after two-and-a-half years with La Dea, and he revealed that he did not enjoy his time with the Nerazzurri, often feeling constricted while he was there.

“There is no relationship with the coach, no freedom, you feel like a number and not a person,” Maehle told La Repubblica.

Juventus’s Juan Cuadrado and Atalanta’s Joakim Maehle. [@juventusfcen]

Although the wing-back starred for Denmark at the 2020 European Championship when they reached the semi-finals of the tournament, he struggled to replicate that form as an Atalanta player.

Gasperini picked on minor things like carsharing with Hojlund

Maehle considered the environment at Atalanta to be restrictive, and he never understood why he was constantly criticised by Gasperini for driving to training with compatriot and current Manchester United striker Rasmus Hojlund. It reached a point that he felt there was little he could do to win over the coach.

“We were together continuously for two or three days just to play a match, it was very hard mentally,” Maehle said.

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini. (@Atalanta_BC)

“I was also criticised by Gasperini because Hojlund used to drive with me to training, something I had agreed with the club. After a while, you get angry and tired. His management could be called dictatorial, based on fear. I wasn’t used to all that.”

Demiral takes sides with Maehle in voicing Gasperini criticism

Merih Demiral, Marten de Roon and Brandon Soppy celebrate an Atalanta goal. (REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo)

Maehle has found an ally in former Atalanta teammate Merih Demiral, who is now playing for Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia after two seasons with La Dea, and in a post on X, formerly Twitter, he also revealed a disdain for Gasperini’s methods.

“You will soon learn all the facts,” Demiral said, sharing the post that included Maehle‘s comments. “Wait for the interview.”

Perhaps it is no surprise that two former players have publicly voiced their disdain for the methods of the La Dea tactician shortly after leaving the club. However, this is not the first time that Gasperini has had a fractured relationship with players as club stalwart Papu Gomez was sold in January 2021 after falling out with the coach.

For all the backlash that Gasperini is receiving now, he is still at Atalanta after more than seven seasons in charge, and the club hierarchy have faith in his methods.