There is no denying that since the last international break at the end of September, Spurs have been a difficult watch and struggled to create goals.
Antonio Conte’s side have two of the best forwards in world football and the deadliest partnership in the Premier League with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min at the top of the pitch and playing every single game up until Son’s fractured cheekbone against Marseille, but something is still missing.
Dejan Kulusevski.Embed from Getty Images
The January signing picked up a hamstring problem on international duty for Sweden and was only able to manage one start in the last game before the break for the World Cup. Spurs without Kulusevski were like a car without fuel; it just did not work.
The cheer when the former Juventus player entered the pitch after 78 minutes against Liverpool reverberated around the stadium and within seconds, the Swede showed exactly what the side had been missing. Kulusevski cut inside and played the ball through to Kane and the England captain smashed the ball past Allison Becker to get Spurs back in the game.
It was the same story against Leeds. Spurs were behind with ten minutes to go against Leeds, they got one back in the 81st minute and then Kulusevski provided a moment of genius to win his side the game and ensure they remained in the top four going into the break. The winger instructed Davinson Sanchez to fire the ball into Kane and then made a run behind the Leeds defense, Kane then found Kulusevski who took an exquisite first touch past Robin Koch, before having the presence of mind to square it to Rodrigo Bentancur to fire home the winner.Embed from Getty Images
Not many players in World football have the presence of mind to orchestrate a whole move and execute it perfectly with minutes to go in a must-win game, but Kulusevski does.
It is no suprise that Spurs had their highest expected goals since the September international break in the game at the weekend and Kulusevski’s first start.
Although Harry Kane is by far Tottenham’s best player, he is not their most important one. With the Swedish international on the right-hand side Spurs just look so much more fluid and dangerous in attack and without him every win seems like a battle. The winger is incredible at keeping hold of the ball, the way he gets his body in between the ball and the defender is magnificent.
Tottenham signed Kulusevski from Juventus in the January window with their top four hopes drifting, but his impact was incredible and eventually, Conte’s side secured Champions League football on the final day of the season. Spurs brought in the Swede on an initial loan deal until June 2023, but they have an option to buy him for around £26 million. That is a bargain if you ask me. Kulusevski scored five goals and picked up eight assists in just 14 games and five assists in just nine appearances so far this season.
Would you believe me if I told you that the winger was one month older than Phil Foden? No, you wouldn’t. Part of this is because Dejan does not look like a footballer. He is tall, ginger and slightly spotty. No, I am not talking about Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. However, I would argue that he is probably one of the most important players in the Premier League to the way that his side play.Embed from Getty Images
For years, Spurs had a brilliant duo up front and then an average player like Lucas Moura on the other wing. It was like having batman and robin, then a limp rabbit in support. Lucas has provided the greatest moment in Tottenham’s recent history but can’t compete with the quality of Kane and Son. However, now with Kulusevski, Spurs’ two superstars have now met their match and Fabio Paratici has put together the perfect hattrick.
Juventus must be absolutely kicking themselves that they let this gem go for such little money. Who made that genius decision?
Sweden unfortunately did not qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar and therefore, Kulusevski will have six weeks off in the middle of the season, unlike most of his teammates. This break after just returning from injury and the chance to work on the training ground with the excellent coach Conte will no doubt do wonders for the Swede. The former Juventus player could reach 15 goal contributions by the end of the season.