If you ended up here and are older than 25 (well, maybe even if you are younger than that…), chances are you owned a football stickers album at least once as a kid. Transfer market sessions are pretty much like that: A stickers swapping exercise. Players come and go. “Got, got, need.”
The Cult of Calcio’s Stickers Swapping column brings you the best of the “calciomercato” trends and rumors, looking at who’s set to close the next big deal and who has already done it…
The Serie A transfer window is open and managers across the Peninsula are looking at reinforcing their squads in the following month. The Italian top flight has been one of the tightest and most exciting leagues this season with Juventus finally having a real title contender in the person of Antonio Conte and his Inter.
Maurizio Sarri is yet to impose his style of play and his Juventus side appeared pretty inconsistent for the first half of the season. Sarri is one of those managers who need to act on the transfer market, and so he did, not wasting any time and perfecting one of the first big signings just days into the window.
After being heavily linked with Norwegian striker Erling Braut Haaland, who rather chose to continue his career at Borussia Dortmund, the Turin giants ended up signing Dejan Kulusevski, another 19-year-old forward from the neighboring country of Sweden.
The Swedish international has been on loan at Parma from his mother-club Atalanta this season and has shown some impressive form with 4 goals and 7 assist in 17 appearances. Such numbers caught the eye of the Juventus bosses who quickly acted and paid 35M euros for his services. Kulusevski had sparked the interest of many clubs, with Manchester United and Inter being the most insistent, but ultimately chose to remain in the Italian first league and Juve won the fight against their direct title contenders.
Even though the Swede will continue his loan at Parma until the end of the season, La Vecchia Signora have assured themselves for the next four years with a replacement for Mario Mandzukic, who departed the club to earn a well-deserved last paycheck at Al-Duhail in the Qatar Stars League.
But what does Dejan Kulusevski bring to the table and where will he fit in this star-studded Juventus side? First, his versatility. In modern football, being able to cover more than one position on the field is almost a must, and Kulusevski has played in three for the first half of this season. Even though he is best suited for an inverted winger role, cutting in from the right side to use his preferred left foot, Kulusevski has also been deployed as a striker or central midfielder at need – much like Mario Mandzukic, who started off as a forward but spent much of his Juventus career as a winger.
Another one of his traits is strength: Standing 186 cms, Kulusevski is tall and powerful, but also surprisingly agile and very technically gifted for a man of his stature, averaging 7.13 dribbles per match. He is also fast and has high stamina making him ideal for coming back in defense when his team needs it.
On top of that, he has shown plenty of unselfishness during his time at the Ennio Tardini Stadium, always looking for the best solution rather than going for the glory himself as many young players tend to do.
It seems like Juventus have a real player on their hands, and under the right guidance, we could be seeing one of the future football stars blooming. If Dejan Kulusevski can face the pressure of playing for one of the world’s biggest clubs and can continue his form, we will only have to congratulate Juventus for taking care of their future and snatching up one of the league’s brightest talents.