Tottenham Hotspur have turned their attentions to Juventus winger Dejan Kulusevski after missing out on Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Adama Traore and Porto’s Luis Diaz, sources have told
Dejan Kulusevski to Tottenham, here we go! He’ll fly to London today. Total agreement reached with Juventus ⚪️ #THFC
Deal will be around €40m plus add ons – including loan fee and buy clause that could become mandatory in case of UCL qualification/certain number of appearences.
It will be a five-month loan for €5m, with option to buy that becomes an obligation if Tottenham qualify for the Champions League and Kulusevski plays in at least half the games for the rest of this season.
Sportitalia and Gazzetta dello Sport transfer expert Alfredo Pedullà claims the deal also includes €4-5m in bonuses, so the total cost of the operation could be closer to €45m.
That would be €10m more than Juventus paid to get Kulusevski from Atalanta in January 2020, despite the fact his transfer value has if anything dropped since then due to some relatively disappointing performances.
Current Spurs director Fabio Paratici was the man in charge when that deal for Kulusevski was done.
Kulusevski has found himself in and out of Juventus XI at times, starting in five of his 20 Serie A appearances in 2021/22, but he has still managed to chip in with five goal contributions.
Kulusevski joined Juve two years ago following an excellent season from Atalanta following such a successful start to his Parma loan spell, where he scored ten goals alongside eight assists in 36 Serie A appearances.
He played a variety of roles during the 2020/21 campaign, featuring out wide or as a support striker to then Bianconeri forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Making an impression in his first year in Turin with seven goals and seven assists from 47 games in all competitions, opportunities have been limited for the Swede this term following Massimiliano Allegri’s return to the club.
Tottenham managing director of football Fabio Paratici knows all about the quality the attacker possesses and clearly believes he can be a big success in north London.
Born in Vällingby, a suburb of Stockholm, Kulusevski was raised by a Macedonian father and a Swedish mother, and he began his footballing development at IF Brommapojkarna at the age of six, where he would quickly become the hottest prospect in the entire academy.
Whilst he initially began as a defender, he soon converted into a midfielder, and at 16 years of age, he was spotted in a youth tournament by Maurizio Costanzi, the head of Atalanta’s academy, who brought him to Bergamo.
In his first season with Atalanta’s primavera side, Kulusevski scored 17 goals in 22 appearances; the following year, he provided 6 goals and 12 assists in 31 appearances.
Perhaps the most impressive detail is that he managed those incredible goalscoring numbers whilst playing as a midfielder, not as an attacker.
In 2018/19, Kulusevski provided 11 goals and 14 assists in 23 appearance, and his performances led to Atalanta winning the national Primavera Championship for the first time in 21 years, where he was voted as the Player of the Tournament for his performances in the final stages of the tournament.
His performances for the youth team even impressed Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini, who gave him his Serie A debut against Frosinone.
But for a creative winger and attacking midfielder, opportunities were always going to be limited – and for good reason – while Papu Gomez was around. So he finally got a loan to Parma, where he’s having his breakout season
His debut for Roberto D’Aversa’s side came against Juventus, where he was played on the right wing, a position that was relatively foreign to him, having mainly played in a midfield role at Atalanta’s Zingonia academy.
As the season progressed, he became more comfortable in the right wing position, playing on the right flank in a 4-2-3-1, a 3-4-3, and a 4-3-3, whilst also playing as an attacking midfielder in some games.
D’Aversa praised the teenager’s versatility, saying;
“If you analyse the data, you can see that he is a boy who in every game covers 13-14 kilometres. If he learns to manage himself, to be less frantic and more decisive, he can really become an important player. I have no fear of saying that he can become a top player.”
After breaking onto the scene with Parma, scoring 10 goals and providing a further eight assists in 2019/20, the Old Lady spent big to secure his services from Atalanta in January 2020.
He was named Serie A’s Best Young Player at the end of his sole campaign with Parma with the Italian giants allowing the attacker to remain with the Crociati on loan.
After two years down the line, the swede is on the move again. He scored seven goals and seven assists last season for Juventus but Kulusevski has found himself in and out of the team this season under Massimiliano Allegri but has still contributed with five goal involvements.
The young Mohamed Salah?
Salah has been in impressive form and an household name in the lips of every Premiership fans and football fans over the world drawing comparison with the one of the greatest footballer of all time – Lionel Messi.
After signing for Liverpool five years ago from Roma, the forward has racked up impressive over 100 goals in the Reds shirt, winning the UEFA Champions League, Premiership and finishing 3rd twice in the Fifa Men’s player award.
With Kulusevski combination of power, technical ability, speed, tactical intelligence, his ability to glide through the pitch with the ball glued to his feet, and his unique skillset, Kulusevski has earned comparisons to Kevin De Bruyne and Mohammed Salah.
He’s a dangerous combination of technical ability, size, strength, and speed.
He’s a winger/midfielder who runs 13 km per game and combines quantity with quality.
He makes up for a lack of explosiveness in his acceleration with good strides in his progressive runs, especially when there are big spaces in front of him: he’s a strong ball carrier and keeps his head up when running with it.
Kulusevski’s directional control with the ball is good: his agility and touches aren’t excellent, but he’s skilled enough to consistently get past opponents when pressured on the ball, either with dribbles or body feints.
Better alternative than Luiz Diaz
Some fans may feel a move for Kulusevski smacks of desperation as the north London side scramble to add new faces to the squad after missing out on Luiz Diaz to Liverpool.
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However, Kulusevski fits more into Conte’s style and pattern of play than Diaz who’s only effective from the left wing, which is preoccupied by South Korean talisman – Son Heung-Min.
Tottenham do have plenty of attackers at the club already but the Swedish international would give Antonio Conte options in the final third due to his versatility.
He adds to those wide options as he does operate from the right wing, thus allowing either Son or Bergwijn to play centrally if Kane is absent.
However, that’s not the only position the Juventus man can play as he has operated in central midfield, attacking midfield, from the left flank and also up front.
So what exactly is his best position in the team?
“From the beginning, my role was a trequartista (central playmaker behind the striker),” explained Kulusevski, as reported by UEFA’s official website in January 2020.
“I can be a winger, last season I was a mezzala [on the side in a three-man midfield], so I can play wherever the coach wants, but I see myself as a trequartista behind the strikers.”
Where exactly could the Swede line up in Conte’s 343 formation?
Yet to solve their creative issue since Christian Eriksen’s move to Inter Milan two years ago.
Spurs are in need of a player to advance the play from midfield, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp, Conte’s favoured central pairing, lacking the vision and dribbling qualities to get the ball into attack from midfield with great regularlity.
Kulusevski is perhaps better suited and could help ease the pressure in the final third if he does play in that central attacking midfield role and finds his best form
He isn’t afraid to get the ball down and run at opponents to help set Juventus on the front foot, with this quality perhaps the best weapon in his arsenal, and could be an asset in the middle of the park
He gets into the box a lot, but he’s more likely to look for a teammate than to shoot himself. Throughout his career, he’s had about twice as many assists as goals.
In attack, Kulusevski tends to use longer passes at RW and more link-up play at CAM, where his ball retention and his attacking output are higher.
In fact, though it’s early days, his attacking output at CAM is already better than for most players at that position in Serie A. And that’s probably what got Juventus’s attention
A lack of game time and confidence shown in him by Allegri has certainly affected his output, yet his previous campaigns in Italy highlight how effective an attacking outlet he can be when given a decent run of game time and a lot of freedom to roam which will be presented in Conte’s attacking system.
His forward passing and carrying in transition are already at an elite level and could improve any team’s offence, while his on-ball/off-ball defence are solid for a winger.
Whether Conte has plans for Kulusevski to play in attack, in midfield or to mould the Swede as a right wing-back, it remains to be seen, but he is a hard working individual who is prepared to operate in a number of positions no matter where the manager asks him to play.