Dejan Kulusevski’s move to Juventus comes as a big surprise. After weeks of drawing links with Inter and Manchester United, the Swede now seems set on a move to the bianconeri. Fabrizio Romano has said that a fee of €35 million-plus bonuses has been agreed with Atalanta. The player has already said ‘yes’ to a move to the Old Lady instead of moving to the nerazzurri.
It isn’t new to see Juve sign the best talent in the Serie A. The same took place with Federico Chiesa, Paulo Dybala, Merih Demiral and many other players in the past. The club has this reputation for doing it, but this signing presents a huge coup for the bianconeri. That is largely because of the player’s ability.
As things stand, Kulusevski has shown immense promise. Despite being only 19, he has a very good final product in his play. That is very rare for a player of his age. He has four goals and seven assists to his name. More than that, he has completed 2.4 key passes per game. He also has a tally of 2.1 dribbles per game.
It is his first season of senior level football. He was playing for the La Dea Primavera side until last season itself. A move to Juve presents a chance to prove himself at the highest stage. He is already one of the best players in the league at the age of 19.
Kulusevski is a very versatile player. This season he has been playing on the right-wing, also having played upfront. He has also played in central midfield for the Atalanta junior sides. It shows how he’s a very smart player. That will be key for Juve.
Maurizio Sarri is using a 4-3-1-2 shape at the Turin side this season. The number ten position has usually been taken up by Federico Bernardeschi. The Italian hasn’t contributed to a single goal or assist so far in Serie A. Paulo Dybala has also been played in that position sometimes and he has been one of the best players so far. He has a tally of five goals and one assist. Douglas Costa is also slowly coming back to fitness.
That area of the pitch will be tough to break into for a new signing like Kulusevski. But Juve’s lack of creativity in central midfield will help him.
Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi haven’t been playing well in Sarri’s technically demanding system. Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic have done well, settling into the new system. Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey have been struggling with fitness. Emre Can is already not in the club’s plans.
During his time with the Atalanta Primavera side, Kulusevski had played 62 games in central midfield. He had an impressive tally of 31 goals and 23 assists. And his direct dribbling from deeper areas has been key to his style. Despite being so young, the Swede has a maturity on the ball that can’t be found.
His style is a lot like Dybala himself, bar how he can play central midfield as well. He likes to get on the ball and drive forward. He takes defenders on, beats them and constantly cuts inside even if he plays on the right.
Considering how Sarri’s system is reigniting Dybala’s career, it could be vital for Kulusevski too. Under him, Juve have often been sluggish. They’re giving the impression of being like Max Allegri’s Juve more than a Sarri side. This transition was always going to take time. But there has been a need for creative players in the heart of the park.
And Kulusevski is that creative player. He is playing more key passes per game than anyone else in the Juve side, let alone the Parma side. He is also completing as many dribbles per game as Dybala. That is the spark Juve need in midfield to unlock Sarri’s system.
He’s good enough to play upfront too. The manner in which he left Kalidou Koulibaly in the dust against Napoli recently shows that. He had a goal and an assist against the partenopei. He did start the game on the right but then moved to the forward position.
His pace on the ball and movement could be key for the Juve frontline. They do have Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain. But Sarri demands his frontline to be free-flowing. He is known for having forwards who can come deeper and get involved. Kulusevski is exactly that.
He is getting to play Champions League football. He would fight for the Scudetto and get the global attention that his career deserves. A move to Inter would also have made a lot of sense. But now that it isn’t happening, there is no point in talking about it.
Juve may not have the best reputation when it comes to poaching the best talents in Italy. But there is a lot in there that can bring the best out of Kulusevski.