Swedish football is in a good place right now. After knocking Germany out of the World Cup group stages, they managed to progress through the final 8 where they were beaten by England. Easy qualification, however, for the 2020 Euro Championships show the country are dragging themselves to be a staple in major championships. One player that looks to carry his team to victory is Dejan Kulusevski. The young midfielder is having the season of his life in Italy. This has seen him gain a lot of attention.
Dejan Kulusevski – Background
Kulusevski was born on 25th April 2000 in Stockholm to Macedonian parents. By the age of 6 he had joined the youth academy of IF Brommapojkarna. Flash forward and, in his own words “Atalanta brought me to Italy when I was 15 and a half years old after seeing me in a youth tournament against them”. He made his debut for the Italian side on 20th January 2019.
Dejan Kulusevsi – Parma Calcio 1913
After 3 appearances for Atalanta – who we have previously written about here – Kulusevski was sent out on loan to Parma where he joined up with Roberto D’Aversa. Since then he has gone from strength to strength and helped the side push up to 9th in Serie A. They sit just 2 points behind (a struggling) Napoli in 7th. In 14 appearances, the young Swede has scored 3 goals and provided an incredible 5 assists!
Dejan Kulusevski Stats
When you compare these stats to the rest of the league and the rest of Europe, the Kulusevski shines. Only 2 players in Serie A have more assists and only 11 players in Europe are ahead of the youngster, a great feat for the 19-year-old.
Outside of goals and assists, he stands head and shoulders above the rest of the players on the pitch. He averages a staggering 2.4 key passes/game, that puts him in the top 20 in Europe and only teenager in top 50 players! The sign of a good player is to be multi-dimensional and this is something that Kulusevski shows in abundance. Attempting 2.4 dribbles/game, he shows he can create space and drive his team forward. Comparatively this is more than Raheem Sterling and Felipe Anderson and he is top 10 in Serie A. In terms of passes, the young winger could probably look to improve, averaging just 27.9 passes per game, way off compared to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne (51.7) and Marcelo Brozovic (73.1).
A joy to watch, Kulusevski reminds you of Kevin De Bruyne. Just as comfortable on the wing or in the number 10 role, the passing ability of the youngster is out of this world. Shown in his 5 assists already, he is able to put his teammates through with passes that many would not spot. Standing at 1.86m, he is tall and strong and this allows his to hold onto the ball. Quick as well, the youngster is able to brush players aside with driving runs to carry his team forward.
Add a natural talent for silky skills and the ability to find space despite being surrounded and you have a player that can dictate a game. Not just content with assisting, Kulusevski can score as well.
Defensively, the Swede is very hard working. Not afraid to put in a tackle, he helps his team as another line of defence. Also willing to chase opposing defenders, he shows that opportunities can be made from the slightest of chances. A good work ethic is something that so many of the top managers insist in their players. See our article from last season on Liverpool to understand how Jurgen Klopp demands high work rate from his team.
This is not by accident. Since he moved to Italy, Kulusevski has been learning the Italian game. The three years he spent in the Bergamo football academy taught him the importance of defensive work and the Atalanta academy is renowned as a ‘talent factory’.
Dejan Kulusevski – The Future
After this season’s heroics, there is no doubt that there will be interest in the youngster. Still contracted to Atalanta, and willing to prove himself, he might choose to stay and fight for his spot.
“I don’t want to change teams in January because I need to grow up here, then we’ll see. I like Italy and the English Premier League, but in the end it’s Atalanta that decides”Dejan Kulusevski – Speaking to Italian newspaper Repubblica
This might change though, as there is lots of interest from Antonio Conte at Inter. Further afield there are Premier League clubs fighting for his signature, as there are rumours Liverpool and Manchester United have sent scouts to Italy. 2020 sees the European Championships begin, and the young winger will look to show the world his talents.
Dejan Kulusevski is looking like a real talent and, with the right coaching and career choices, he can become a great player. A natural talent for skills, strength and speed mean he can compete with the best. Will he move to England? Only time will tell!
Where will Dejan Kulusevski end up?