Dejan Kulusevski: Serie A’s most promising youngster


The next Zlatan Ibrahimovic is at Parma and his name is Dejan Kulusevski.

Kulusevski, loaned out to Parma from Juventus, born in Sweden to Macedonian parents is only 19-years-old and has taken the Italian league by storm. He joined the Bianconeri for €35m after being linked with Inter Milan and Premier League giants and receives a €2m annual salary which is €1.4m more than the average annual wage for a 19-year-old in the Italian top flight.

Despite playing most of his games as a right winger, Kulusevski can play anywhere in the final third.

The spotlight seems to be directed in the wrong place, on the likes of Nicolo Zaniolo, Justin Kluivert, Federico Chiesa and Rodrigo Bentancur.

However, scoring five goals and assisting seven (most league assists after Luis Alberto) in 21 games makes him the youngest player in Europe’s top five leagues to contribute to more than ten goals this season and exceeding the mentioned youngsters’ numbers and the likes of Paulo Dybala.

Alongside his teammates, the youngster is looking to make history and reach the sixth place in the Italian top flight for the first time in six years as the Duchy Men are seventh placed on equal points with Cagliari who are one position above.

With 20 key passes, Parma’s number 44 recorded the highest number of key passes so far in the league.

Before making it to the first division of Italian football, Kulusevski used to play for Atalanta’s under-19 team where he averaged a 1.28 goals or assists per game leading La Dea to the league title.

Just like the past, the future is looking bright for the teen as he is already outnumbering stars when they were his age. When Stephan El Shaarawy was 19, in 21 games with AC Milan, the Italian had scored 13 goals and created three. Paul Pogba had seven goals and four assists during his 13/14 season at Juventus.

Kulusevski finds inspiration in Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “Ibrahimović has been a role model for me. He has been for all Swedish players but mostly for us sons of immigrants.” The 19-year-old surpassed Zlatan when he was in his teenage years as well, at the time Ibrahimovic managed to score six goals and create three among a title winning Ajax side.

Besides his creativity, the youngster is known for his work ethic and runs, a trait appreciated by Parma coach Roberto D’Aversa:  “When you analyse the data, he is always among the players who cover the most distance in every game. He has the right mentality because he has come through the great Atalanta academy. He has the potential to be a devastating player.”

D’Aversa has the statistics to support that, Kulusevski is the player with the most distance covered after Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

Moreover, the Parma forward is talented at advancing in the open field in a side which is the quickest to counter attack, his average runs with the ball in these situations are the fourth-longest in the league with 7.41 meters.

His team has in fact the highest pace towards goal in Serie A at 3.04 meters per second.

The Swede likes to put pressure on the opposition’s defense averaging 1.1 tackles per game perhaps another reason Italian coach Pierpaolo Bisoli is reminded of a speedy right-winger when he watches him: “He has incredible physical strength, he reminds me of a young Salah for the way he shakes off opponents in the first ten metres.”

Kulusevski is 186cm tall and weighs 76kg making him a well-developed player considering his age, with physical strength, pace, creativity, ambition to match as Kulusevski heads to Turin in the summer with plenty of potential to succeed.


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