Fantasy football hero Kulusevski should prove a dream signing for Juventus

Dejan Kulusevski Parma Juventus
The 19-year-old Swede has taken Serie A by storm, earning himself a transfer to Turin, and a plethora of points for fantasy players

The stereotypical trappings of fame for a footballer are money, cars and women. The reality has been a little different for Dejan Kulusveski, though.

"Unfortunately, there are more fantasy football players writing to me on Instagram than women!" he recently revealed in an exclusive interview with DAZN.

He wasn't lying either, with Kulusevski sometimes receiving up to 200 messages of gratitude a day, which is hardly surprising, of course.

Nearly all of those riding high at the top of the fantasy football rankings in Italy owe their success to Kulusevski, the bargain-buy 19-year-old Swede who has arguably been the revelation of the European season so far.

Having been deemed surplus to requirements at Atalanta for the 2019-20 campaign, Kulusevski was loaned to Parma last summer and started the season behind the likes of Yann Karamoh in the pecking order at the Ennio Tardini.

Just six months on, Juventus have signed the versatile attacking midfielder for €35 million (£30m/$39m), and a further €9m (£7.7m/$10.1m) in potential add-ons, although he will remain on loan at Parma until the end of the season.

It obviously represents a significant gamble on a player who has played just 22 games in Italy's top flight but the Bianconeri have never had any doubts about Kulusevki's potential.

Having been impressed with his performances at youth level for Atalanta, Juve's chief football officer Fabio Paratici tried to sign him for their Under-23s before he joined Parma last summer but the player and his advisors felt he would be better served by spending some time at a club where he was guaranteed senior game time.

When Juve came calling again, though, Kulusevski didn't say no, despite the fact that he had initially seemed poised to agree a move to Inter.

However, there were concerns over whether he would excel in Antonio Conte's preferred 3-5-2 formation at San Siro.

Dejan Kulusevski Parma PS

Consequently, when Juve entered the fray, Kulusevski jumped at the opportunity to join a team a team coached by Maurizio Sarri. He favours a 4-3-3 - the same system employed at Parma by Roberto D'Aversa - even if this season the Bianconeri boss has embraced a 4-3-1-2 to accommodate the resurgent Paulo Dybala.

Kulusevski certainly has the skills to excel in either formation, given he is performing wonderfully well on the right side of a front three, but clearly blessed with the requisite vision and eye for goal to play as a modern playmaker.

As D'Aversa has already noted this season, the Stockholm native is still too weak from a defensive perspective to play as a central midfielder.

The discipline needed for a box-to-box role should come in time but this is a player who loves nothing more than to attack, to run at defenders – which is hardly surprising for someone who studies the movement of Kevin De Bruyne, and had posters of Ronaldinho and Eden Hazard on his wall growing up.

Although obviously not as naturally gifted as those superstars, Kulusevski is a strong, pacy runner adept at dropping the shoulder to beat his man. Indeed, he ranks joint-fifth for dribbles completed in Serie A this season, with 35.

There has also been an end product, though, with Kulusevski racking up four goals and seven assists in 19 appearances in all competitions.

Dejan Kulusevski Parma PS

The challenge now, of course, will be adding to those impressive numbers next season having been placed firmly in the spotlight by his imminent move to the biggest club in Italy.

After all, we're talking about a superstitious teenager who always takes to the field chewing gum and will decide whether to spit it out, or keep it for the entire game, based upon the success of his first pass.

However, there is also a steely determination to succeed there, with Kulusevski – who credits his parents with playing a pivotal role in his meteoric rise – appearing to have the right mix of humility and ambition to thrive in Turin.

"I know that when I start thinking too much, I play badly. So, I try to be like when I was a child in Sweden, where I only thought about having fun," he told DAZN. "When I have fun, I'm strong."

Kulusevski, who has already been capped by Sweden at senior level, is certainly enjoying himself at the minute, having secured a summer transfer to Turin on the back of a string of scintillating showings in Serie A.

He insists that similar young guns such as Kylian Mbappe are on a whole other level to him right now but nonetheless feels himself part of "the generation that will change football: respectful but afraid of nothing", telling La Repubblica in November, "The door is now open for us."

And Kulusevski has already barged his way through it.

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His life is about to change – again. He will no longer be a bargain buy in fantasy football, that's for sure.

But then, while his price may be high next season, it should be worth paying.

Juventus are already in no doubt about that.