Jasmin Kurtic, PAOK defensive midfielder turned « serial scorer »

PAOK’s main attacking threat plays as a defensive midfielder and you just have to look at Jasmin Kurtic’s stats sheet to be convinced. The Slovenian has already scored 18 goals this season, including 15 in the Championship, making him the top scorer.

« It’s so rare », laughs Boukary Dramé. The laughter is spontaneous when he learns that his former teammate scored 9 of his 15 goals from the penalty spot. The former PSG resident played for four seasons alongside Kurtic, at Atalanta Bergamo then at SPAL, and he warns OM: “It is to be feared, yes. If he had been given more responsibility, especially on set pieces and penalties, he could have had a better career. »

Kurtic has played 289 matches in ten years in Serie A: « You have to realize that it’s huge, » says Dramé. It’s such a mentally demanding Championship. » The 33-year-old midfielder has mainly evolved in mid-table clubs, with slight European ambitions such as Fiorentina, Palermo, Sassuolo or even this Atalanta which has since joined the clan of Italian cadors.

“He always planted his 4.5 goals per season”

Vincent Laurini, Parma player and former teammate of Kurtic

When Gian Piero Gasperini landed in Bergamo in 2016, he made it a pillar of his starting lineup. Drame remembers: “He matched him. He knows how to do everything, he’s strong, he’s strong, he doesn’t hesitate to defend, he has good technique. He played in 8 and projected a lot. It was he who wanted to leave in the winter of 2018 (at SPAL), because he had a little pissed off. Gasperini is a very good coach, but he is not easy. He did not think about money and preferred to prioritize his well-being. »

The right side Vincent Laurini rubbed shoulders with him during his last two years in Italy, in Parma: “He is extremely thorough. Tactically, he squares the field well. And he still planted his 4.5 goals per season. As for the penalties, if he never took them, he was already working them a lot. » The Slovenian is also formidable from a free kick and what he achieves is unique in the current European panorama: no midfielder has passed the 10-goal mark in the Big 5 Championships. He did – in a Greek Championship necessarily less raised – by playing in a two-man environment in front of the defense. He plays in the same position in selection, of which he is a manager (76 matches, 2 goals).

Last summer, he left Italy reluctantly, initially unconvinced by the offer from PAOK, which has not left the first two places in the Greek Championship for four years. The Thessaloniki club is also on track for the five-point pass: it is currently second, 11 points behind Mathieu Valbuena’s Olympiakos, who has only scored 3 goals, far from the astonishing stats of Kurtic.

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