By now we have a pretty good idea of the sort of player that Tottenham Hotspur will look to target in the January transfer window — multiple outlets are suggesting that Spurs Director of Football Fabio Paratici will focus most of his attention on a left-sided CB, a right-sided wingback, and a forward to spell Harry Kane.
That doesn’t mean we’re not still going to see some pretty exciting rumors for players outside those profiles as we start the new year. Take this one from the Italian rumor mill — according to Turin daily paper La Stampa (paywalled, via Sport Witness), Tottenham are now in “pole position” to land Juventus attacking midfielder and Swedish international Dujan Kulusevski in January.
Still just 21, Kulusevski exploded onto the Serie A scene two seasons ago while on loan at Parma from Atalanta where he had 10 goals and 8 assists in 2900 league minutes playing mostly as a right sided winger or inside forward, earning himself the Serie A Young Player of the Year award. That was interesting, as he had mostly played as a central midfielder at Atalanta. He did well enough that last season he was quickly snapped up by Juventus, where he had four goals and three assists in 1900 Serie A minutes for the Old Lady.
But Kulusevski has had a much harder time of it this season under Massimiliano Allegri, making just four starts and playing just over 650 minutes. To hear La Stampa put it, Juventus needs money to finance January moves of their own — specifically mentioning Sassuolo’s Gianluca Scamacca — and are hence likely to “sacrifice” Kulusevski in January, with Tottenham extremely interested. They suggest a bid of €35m (£29.5m) would likely be enough to land him, and say that Spurs are a strong possibility for his signature, but with Arsenal also interested.
The link to Paratici is an obvious one — Fabio had a role in bringing him into Juventus in the first place and so likely knows Kulusevski and what he can add to a football club. And quite honestly, at that price Spurs should be prioritizing him over Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic. Finding an out-and-out striker is tough when you have Harry Kane, and Spurs do have two young strikers in the pipe in Troy Parrott and Dane Scarlett that could eventually inherit that role. At 21, Kulusevski is already a solid and versatile creative attacking midfielder, something that, frankly, Spurs could use right now. He’s excellent at ball progression and chance creation, and is super fast. This is an exciting rumor.
There’s a question as to where Kulusevski’s long-term position is — he has said himself that he sees himself as more of a trequartista, operating in the half-space just behind the striker, and he has played in a deeper role as an 8 while at Atalanta. That versatility likely works in his favor — it’s pretty easy to see how he could fit into Antonio Conte’s tactics, and he’d be an upgrade to someone like Steven Bergwijn on the right side of the attacking band, or (sob) someone like Dele... he’d probably also challenge Lucas Moura. At 21, his ceiling is incredibly high, and for €35m, that’s a bargain — consider that Fiorentina is likely going to command upwards of €70m for Vlahovic in the short term, or until he runs his contract down.
We’ve all been around long enough that we shouldn’t immediately take transfer rumors at face value, especially from the Italian media. Thanks to Conte and Paratici, we’re going to see a TON of these kinds of stories, and that means it’ll be difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Honestly, I’m not sure if this rumor is wheat or chaff, but it’s pretty damn exciting. I say let’s do it and be legends.