Sweden and Rangers defender Filip Helander has backed Dejan Kulusevski to succeed at Juventus, despite his teething problems in Turin this season.
The youngster was signed by the Bianconeri from Atalanta last winter while he was impressing on loan at Parma, and he made his move to the Allianz Stadium after the 2019/20 season had concluded.
But Kulusevski hasn’t always had things go his way this season and has struggled for form of late under Andrea Pirlo but Helander, who spent time with both Hellas Verona and Bologna in Serie A, has no doubts about his ability.
“I hadn’t seen a lot of him before he came and played with us for the national team,” Helander told The Italian Football Podcast. “But you could see straight away he is a very good player.
“He is still very young, he has a lot of qualities. He wouldn’t be at Juventus if he wasn’t a great player.
“Hopefully, he can take that next step and also bring his qualities to the next level and take us to the next level. He is a player of great talent.”
Helander’s first experience of Italian football came at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, where he was given a warm welcome from Luca Toni.
“I remember that was the last year of his [Toni’s] career when he played with me,” Helander said. “I remember coming to Verona, my first day coming to training and the whole team were sitting in the dining room when I arrived and said hi to everyone.
“And I remember Luca Toni came up to me and said ‘welcome to the Jungle my friend’ in very bad English [laughs]. I have a strong memory of that.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has impressed at AC Milan since returning to Europe, but Helander has no idea if the rumours linking him with a return to the Swedish national team are true.
“He’s been fantastic this season,” Helander said. “When he went to America, most of us thought he was coming to the end of his career.
“But the way he has played this season for Milan has been fantastic. He is a top player and has been at the top now for 15-20 years.
“I have no idea [if he’s returning to the national team]. I have seen the reports and we don’t know anything about it. If he chooses to return then the quality he has could be very useful for us.”