The lesser-known Swede might just make the bigger impact in Serie A.
Dejan Kulusevski is having a medical at Juventus at the same time Zlatan Ibrahimovic is undergoing tests at AC Milan. Kulusevski is expected to sign a five-year contract, becoming the second-most expensive player born this millennium.
Juventus will reportedly pay Atalanta 35 million euros ($39 million) plus up to 9 million euros ($10 million) in bonuses for the 19-year-old midfielder, not much less than the 45 million euros ($50 million) Real Madrid paid Flamengo for Vinícius Júnior.
The 38-year-old Ibrahimovic — nearly 20 years older than Kulusevski — has agreed to rejoin the Rossoneri until the end of the season with the option to extend his contract for another year.
At the time of the last transfer window, Kulusevski had played only 103 minutes of club soccer in three appearances for Atalanta and was playing at under-19 level for his country. He moved to Parma on loan and has improved quickly, playing a key role in the club’s impressive first half of the season with four goals and seven assists.
His performances earned him a first call-up to the Swedish national team, and he made his international debut in a 3-0 win over the Faeroe Islands in November.
All that saw Juventus move swiftly to sign Kulusevski, despite competition from the likes of Manchester United and Inter Milan.
“It’s normal that big clubs are interested in a player who has been expressing himself at a level like Dejan’s,” said Andreas Engelmark, Kulusevski’s first coach with the Brommapojkarna youth team. “He’s a very versatile player … but I think he expresses himself best between the lines, where thanks to his great dribbling skills he can create very dangerous situations.”
Kulusevski is likely to remain on loan at Parma until the end of the season before moving to the Bianconeri. And that would suit Kulusevski just fine.
“I won’t change teams in January because I need to grow here at Parma, then we’ll see,” Kulusevski said last month. “I don’t think much about the future otherwise I would lose my concentration, train badly and play badly. But I know that one day I’ll get right to the top.”
Joining the eight-time defending champions is certainly a step forward, and Kulusevski could even fix Juve’s midfield problems by linking up with the attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain.
Kulusevski’s move to Juventus will also see him earn a reported 2.5 million euros ($2.8 million) per season.
“I never thought about becoming the best of them all, but I want to play for a big team,” he said. “My head is what has made me get here, not just training and talent.”
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