Dejan Kulusevski has revealed that his decision to take the No.44 shirt at Parma was based on admiration for former Manchester United flop Adnan Januzaj, with the Swede now looking to better the Belgian after earning a big-money move to Juventus.
The Swedish starlet has been in Italy since being acquired by Atalanta in 2016.
With first-team football in short supply there, the promising midfielder was allowed to head for Parma on loan in the summer of 2019.
It did not take him long to catch the eye, with Juve investing €35 million (£31m/$39m) to sign him during the January transfer window.
Kulusevski is being allowed to see out the current campaign at Parma, as he looks to build on an early flurry of goals and assists, and will continue to don a squad number that confused many when he first took it on.
He has now explained that call, telling Sky Sport Italia : “I was in Sweden to see Manchester United and I witnessed Januzaj's debut.
“He entered the pitch with an incredible personality, even though it was his first professional game. I said to my dad that I wanted to be like that, I wanted play that way. I got attached to that number, read a few things and fell in love.”
While his present was partly inspired by a Manchester United flop of the past, Kulusevski’s future is very much at Juventus.
The 20-year-old is setting lofty targets for himself, with there a desire on his part to follow in the footsteps of Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne – who has become one of the finest playmakers in world football.
Kulusevski said of the Belgium international: “He is one of the top five players in the world. I study him a lot because he is a phenomenal player and because I want to become like him.
“One of my habits is to watch many games, because I learn a lot from my colleagues.”