If the Serie A had an award for the ‘Emerging Talent of the Season’, it should go to no one else but Dejan Kulusevski. The Atalanta man has enjoyed a thoroughly impressive season at Parma, attracting deserved attention already.
It has been rather surprising- not even La Dea would have been expecting it. But this season, he has contributed to eight goals while playing only 13 times in the Serie A.
A right-sided playmaker by trade, he is also playing often upfront and a deeper midfield area. But all his goal contributions have come while playing on the right of the front three in Parma’s 4-3-3 shape under Roberto D’Aversa.
This season, Kulusevski has been playing 2.5 key passes per game and has been completing just as many dribbles per game. He is direct and likes to be involved in the thick of things.
He was also used as a striker in Parma’s game against Fiorentina as he was playing in a pacy front line of Yann Karamoh and Gervinho. In that game, Parma were held to a 1-1 draw.
The recent links with Juventus are no surprise at all. Calciomercato recently said that Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici is studying the idea of signing the Swede. The report also said that they could sign him in January and send him back on loan to Parma so that he keeps developing in the right way.
The 19-year-old has also garnered interest from Inter, with the two Scudetto rivals now seemingly set to battle it out for him.
D’Aversa recently told Sky Italia (via SempreInter):
“He’s proving to be a mature boy. I think that for his own good, Atalanta and ours it would be appropriate for him to stay here until the end of the season. If we think about what he’s doing in his first year in Serie A, he has a lot of room for improvement, it’s essential that he stays here to continue to grow and show his qualities.”
While the Calciomercato report does lay out a plan for the player, Juventus might not be the best option for Kulusevski. The playmaker thrives in a free role on the right side of the attacking midfield. Almost like Paulo Dybala or Nicolo Zaniolo.
During his time with the Atalanta Primavera side last season, Kulusevski showed how versatile he is. The Swede played in central midfield. The involvement in 25 goals in 26 Primavera games were numbers to be proud of.
But that also shows that playing further forward has brought the best out of him.
At Juve, Maurizio Sarri has been using the 4-3-1-2 shape. One of Dybala or Federico Bernardeschi plays behind the two strikers. Dybala himself plays upfront sometimes and his abilities allow him to do that.
Bernardeschi has been disappointing. He has been failing, the numbers show that. He is yet to score or assist, despite playing 11 games of the season.
The injuries that Douglas Costa has sustained means that Bernardeschi has often had a free run, despite being poor. Aaron Ramsey did struggle with fitness last month but is slowly coming back.
Sarri has no shortage of options, currently. The club has constant links with Federico Chiesa and Zaniolo and that is suggestive of how they are always on the lookout for signing the best talent in the league. It is also a sign of how Kulusevski isn’t the only option.
Sarri’s attacking system will always benefit a flair player like Kulusevski. But it is never a good idea to sign a player after a few good months of football. Perhaps, that is why big clubs didn’t go ahead and sign Zaniolo in the summer.
It isn’t to say that young Dejan is a bad player. He just needs to grow in a low-pressure environment more- like he is at Parma. The 19-year-old is an Atalanta player and Gian Piero Gasperini has shown how to make the most out of players like him. He has done so with Josip Ilicic and Papu Gomez. The recent example is Ruslan Malinovskiy.
In Gasperini’s 3-4-3 shape, Atalanta play attacking football which has three very creative players. This has made them the most potent attacking side in the league, with 31 goals in their tally. In La Dea, Kulusevski has the right place to be- at least for another 12-18 months.