Dejan Kulusevski: is he what Spurs need?
TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 15: Dejan Kulusevski of Juventus FC looks on during the Serie A match between Juventus and Udinese Calcio at Allianz Stadium on January 15, 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

As Antonio Conte's first transfer window as Tottenham Hotspur boss has slammed shut shut.

However, a few Spurs fans have been left frustrated with the lack of incoming transfers.

Conte's comments since he took over have left little doubt as to his frustration with the squad he inherited from Nuno Espirito Santo's short-lived reign in N17. 

Football.London's Alasdair Gold reported that Conte would demand four positions to be addressed this January: a left-sided centre-back, right wing-back, central midfielder, and a striker.

So, Spurs fans may be forgiven for expecting a couple more arrivals through the gates at Hotspur Way.

However, it is famously difficult to address all problem positions in a January transfer window and it seems that Fabio Paratici and co had their sights set on clearing out the deadwood and creating some space on the wage bill.

  • Paratici asks a favour 

A deadline day double swoop for Juventus duo Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur proved to be the only new additions to Conte's squad. Uruguayan international Bentancur addresses Conte's call for a midfield reinforcement. 

However, the Kulusevski represents an exciting opportunistic buy for the Lilywhites. 

According to Sky Sports, Paratici was originally hoping to capture the signature of Porto winger Luis Diaz.

But the Brazilian was a long-term target for Liverpool and eventually chose to join Jurgen Klopp's side.

At just 21-years-old, Kulusevski should give Spurs a long-term attacking option and with his potential to blossom under Conte an increased market value is to be expected.

Also, when Kulusevski is compared to Diaz, the former seems ready-made to slot into the current Spurs side.

Beginning his professional career at Atalanta, Kulusevksi was sent out on loan to Parma where he attracted the attention of numerous big clubs with his dynamic performances.

One such club was Italian giant Juventus. The Old Lady purchased the attacker on loan with an obligation to buy in January 2020.

A second successful loan at Parma during the 2019-20 season where he notched ten goals and contributed a further nine assists resulted in him being awarded the Serie A Best Young Player of the Season award.

His return to Juventus in the 2020/2021 campaign did not result in quite the same level of success.

Despite scoring the opener and assisting Federico Chiesa for the winner in the 2021 Coppa Italia final, Kulusevski's season never really seemed to ignite. 

He enters North London having lost his way slightly.

Juve boss Max Allegri's tendency to play Paulo Dybala in the right-sided half-space behind the striker meant that the young Swede was forced to maintain more width, where he struggled to make his mark on games. 

The attacker's best performances have come when he has been deployed in between the lines, with overlapping support to drag away defenders.

This is why the 6'1 midfielder could fit perfectly in Conte's preferred 3-4-3 formation.

Conte previously tried to lure Kulusevksi to the San Siro whilst in charge of Inter Milan.

So, it is clear that the Spurs manager feels that Kulusevski is equipped to deal with his demanding playing style.

Spurs' new number 21 possesses traits that will no doubt endear him to Conte. For instance, he is a willing runner both defensively and offensively.

Although he does not have the blistering pace of Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min, his languidly effortless dribbling style has shades of former Spurs fan favourite Moussa Dembele.

When found in space, Kulusevski can cause havoc in backlines due to his directness and trickery. 

However, a trait that will perhaps excite Spurs fans the most is his ability to operate as a creator.

It is widely considered that Tottenham has been missing a creative spark since Christian Eriksen joined Inter Milan in January 2020.

Kulusevski's vision, poise, and weight of pass make him a likely candidate to assume that talismanic role for Conte's men.

If Conte was to employ a 3-5-2 formation, Kulusevski would be adept at operating in the number ten role behind Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.

So, his versatility and well-rounded skill set will provide Spurs with a new weapon in their pursuit of qualification for next season's Champions League. 

Although it is important to manage early expectations for young players, Kulusevski himself certainly seems ready to make his mark in the Premier League. 

In his first interview with Spurs' media team, he said:

 “I’ve been at some teams in Italy, I’ve had a lot of different coaches, learned a lot from them, had a lot of players around me so I think I’m ready for the Premier League at this age and I can’t wait to play."

Both management and fans alike will be excited at the young Swede's confidence and with a busy period of games about to begin, all parties will be hoping he can contribute to a memorable campaign.

 

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