Opinion: Make The Case – Should Spurs keep Dejan Kulusevski?

This right winger makes things very complicated when it comes to our needs in the Ange Postecoglou brand of high-octane football.

Dejan Kulusevski
Photo by SpursWeb

Tottenham Hotspurs right winger Dejan Kulusevski has split the fan base when it comes to his play. His performances this year have been a disappointment when you compare it to prior years when he was in top form.

First brought in on loan in the winter transfer period in the 22/23 season under Antonio Conte, he made an immediate impact when he frequently played as the right winger in the 3-4-3 system.

In the years under Conte, he produced 7 goals and 16 assists in 55 games total for the Spurs. Thus, when it came time to activate his buy clause for €30m from Juventus, it was a no-brainer (transfermarkt).

However, a player in one system isn’t always the same player in another system. So when Ange Postecoglu joined this season, many expected the same or improved production from Deski and that did not occur.

Ange requires a certain skillset from his wingers for his system to work. Ange is looking for speed? Deki has “I can eventually get to my spot” speed. Ange is looking for someone shifty? Deki’s hips are stiffer than your mother’s broom. Ange is looking for someone to beat defenders 1v1? Deki isn’t going to out-juke a U11 academy player, let alone a starting premier league defender. Ange requires his wingers to be far up the pitch and produce pinpoint accuracy crosses to the strikers or the far-side winger. Deki struggled to do that on multiple occasions which brought instant frustration for the fans during games.

Deki has stated to us in the media that his best position is more of a central attacking midfielder (Tottenham). Honestly, with his body frame and style of game, it made perfect sense when he said it. He’s hard to knock off the ball, tall and has enough command of the ball to be creative at times.

So when James Maddison saw a drop in form in the middle of the season, Deki was able to provide another option for Ange to select from. Was he productive? Not really, but he did have a few glimpses that let me know that with more practice, he would be a great option in the future.

Dejan Kulusevski
(Credit: @_ci.snaps_ / Instagram)

Should Dejan Kulusevski stay or go?

While I have provided why Deki doesn’t work as a starting winger, I do believe there is a purpose for him here on the team as a provisional bench player. As a player, his work rate is unbelievable, and he is giving it his all on the offensive and defensive end for all 90 minutes. Against teams 7th place and below, Deki produced 7 goals and 1 assist whereas, against 6th place teams and above, he produced 1 goal and 2 assists (transfermarkt).

If he is coming off the bench, or starting against lower-level teams, I believe he is a great replacement to give a starter some rest. With the Spurs playing more games next season due to the Europa League, players will be playing two games a week. So having a strong bench is necessary if we want to make deep runs in all competitions. But as a starter, especially in Ange’s system, he leaves me scratching my head often. If we are looking to challenge for the league title, he wouldn’t start for Manchester City, Arsenal, Aston Villa, or Liverpool, so why should he start for us?

Verdict: Keep Kulusevski but move him to the bench. Sign a more dynamic right winger.

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