Transfer Analysis: AS Roma's latest signing, Justin Kluivert
Roma have signed Ajax starlet Justin Kluivert for €15 million plus € 5 million in add-ons. The second-generation footballer was linked with many clubs including European powerhouses like Barcelona and Manchester United but ultimately chose Stade Olimpico. According to reports, agent, Mino Raiola had already agreed on a deal with club director, Monchi. Classic subterfuge from Raiola.
Roma finished third in the league last season, behind Napoli and Juventus. They also reached the Champions League semifinal after eliminating Barcelona unexpectedly. Their squad represents a perfect blend of young and veteran talent. With Kluivert just in, they look a couple of signings away from becoming the next European giant.
The world was introduced to Barcelona legend Patrick Kluivert's eldest son in 2017.. He came through the Ajax ranks and made a couple of cameo appearances under then manager Peter Bosz. Even in his short appearances, he helped the team going forward, creating chances through his completely unpredictable, refreshing style of play.
Justin's first Ajax goal came in a 1-1 March draw with Excelsior in the Eredivisie. Drifting into space at the far post, he applied a calm, composed finish. He began to earn minutes in the Europa League, ultimately helping Ajax reach the final.
In league play, Kluivert was averaging a goal contribution every 131 minutes during his breakout season. The young lad at the Amsterdam Arena was catching everyone's eye. He was no more a fringe player. He started playing 90 minutes, finally proving his genes.
Last season, he scored 10 goals and grabbed five assists. His passing and vision became more dynamic. His decision-making matured. He took more shots and improved his discipline on and off the pitch.
Soon after scoring a magnificent hat-trick vs Roda JC he earned a spot in the starting XI. Being so young, he had a wonderful season with Ajax and was touted as the next big transfer target. Luckily, he ended up in Italy.
Style of play
Kluivert is an inverted left winger. His stronger right foot enabled his manager to deploy him on the right at times. He also has a very trainable left foot which assists him in difficult one-v-one situations. The Netherlands international has a footballing brain for proper teamwork. he's just as happy to pass the ball rather than going for glory all by himself. Nor does he dive into tackles.
He does hesitate too often, leading to dispossession. He is not a trickster. If you give him a choice between taking on a player and playing a one-two pass with his teammate, he will choose the latter. I am not saying he can't dribble past opponents; just that he doesn't prefer individuality. This can be considered a positive. However, his take-on success rate hovers around 50%, great for his age.
An opportunist, he can create his shot. He keeps his head in the crowded final third. He has a knack for knocking the ball through goalkeeper's legs or fooling him into leaning the wrong way. The young Dutchman can also curl a beautifully-weighted effort into the top corner from the run of play or a set piece.
He needs to develop his strength to improve the physical side of his game. Standing at 171cm, he wins a very poor 0.1 aerial duels per Eredivisie 90, losing seven times more.
Where would he fit at Roma?
Kluivert will face competition from Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti in Rome. Perotti, 29, and El Sharaarawy, 25, shared the left wing last season. Eusebio Di Francesco will get more unpredictability from Kluivert, but the newcomer will have to prove himself first.
He has scored and assisted more than either el Sharaaarawy or Perotti in lesser minutes, albeit not in Serie A. Along with young Turk Cengiz Under, Justin could run riot, providing the Giallorossi width before cutting inside to do damage.
Both players would be ideal on the break and counters. With Rajda Nainggolan and Daniele De Rossi providing through balls, expect Kluivert to fire the ball home but also provide Eden Dzeko with five-star service.
Long story short, Roma have made an exceptional deal for such an exciting young prospect. His career is now in De Francesco's hands. If his development with Roma follows an ideal path, he may challenge his father's legacy.