Transfers: Deja New
By Sumaiya Vawda
You've read all the deep-dives on Aubameyang and the captaincy. Blimey (cue the Thierry Henry meme), there are many of them. Regardless of the effect this decision has on Aubameyang, Arsenal lack a forward line presence. And yet, the strongest recurring transfer link has not been a striker but a wide player, Dejan Kulusevski.
A 21-year old attacker who has graced the Champions League for Juventus is reportedly available for £26 million. That is sufficient to pique interest. His operating primarily on the right-wing, however, slightly buffers enthusiasm. Is he what Arsenal need?
Kulusevski made his switch to Juventus in January 2020 for a fee in the region of £30 million. Transfer rumours swirling barely two years later is surprising for a promising youngster. In Serie A, he has appeared 49 times for the Old Lady, scoring 4 and assisting 5. Those numbers may go some way to explaining his decreased playing time under Massimiliano Allegri, who has displayed doubts over the player's reading of the game. The Swede's most productive season consisted of 10 goals and 8 assists, donning the colours of Parma at age 19.
Like Bukayo Saka and Nicholas Pépé, Kulusevski is a left-footer plying his trade on the right. He has posted substantial pressing numbers this season and an xA in the 92nd percentile (per Fbref). Statistically, he is comfortable on the dribble and fairs well at passes into the penalty area without being a high-volume passer. His 3.82 shot-creating action per 90 surpasses Pépé and Alex Lacazette- two players Arsenal could lose within the year.
Interestingly, Kulusevski profiles similarly to Mason Mount for the current season. He has turned out in midfield for Juve, but struggles to maintain possession in those areas. Kulusevski's numbers make for good reading without solidifying that he will develop into the elite forward promised at Parma. If Juventus are willing to sell at the lower end of reported figures, he would be an astute pick-up that matches the squad's age profile.
The number 44 could fill Lacazette's second forward role and plaster the void in shot-taking in Arteta's side. However, this is contingent on other movements in London. Stockpiling Kulusevski and Pépé to play second fiddle to Saka on the right is unwise. Additionally, Gabriel Martinelli's return to form questions the need for a further winger when a gaping hole exists at centre forward. On the other hand, Juventus' finances and position in Serie A mean they may be willing to give up on high potential for cash flow.
Despite uncertainty over his ultimate playing level, good ball striking and an eye for line-breaking passes make Kulusevski a tempting prospect. Such a signing may not be transformative but could prove exceptional value. Comparisons have been drawn with fellow Swede Freddie Ljungberg. If Kulusevski's evolution of talent and performance is as eye-catching as that of Ljungberg's hair, then Arsenal should seize their opportunity to add him to this young core.