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In profile: Justin Kluivert

Written by Jack Stroudley on 10th August 2022

Jack Stroudley looks at the latest attacking option reported to be coming through the door.

The transfers appear to be coming thick and fast now! Just days after Shane Duffy it appears that Justin Kluivert could be the next recruit over the line. The 23-year-old is reportedly signing on loan with an £8 million option to buy, and with both Harry Wilson and Manor Solomon injured, he will probably have a pivotal part to play. While we all know a lot about Patrick Kluivert, the ability and capability of his son Justin is unknown to many. So, who is Justin Kluivert?

The fact file

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Kluivert came through the Ajax youth system starting off at the Dutch club in 2007 before making his debut for Jong Ajax (Ajax II) in 2016 playing against MVV. The 23 year old continued to develop as a young player and was given his first taste of first team football for Ajax in January 2017 where he played in their 3-1 away win over PEC Zwolle in the Eredivisie. He continued to impress for Ajax and went on to make over 40 appearances for the club.

His 2017/18 season for Ajax caught the attention of Roma, Kluivert’s 15 goal contributions were enough for the Italian side to take an interest in the Dutch international who they signed for €19 million. Kluivert became the youngest Roma player to score in the Champions League, netting against Viktoria Plzen. His time at Roma has been fairly fragmented making just over 50 appearances and achieving 16 goal contributions.

He has also found himself out on loan on two different occasions since making the move to Italy. Kluivert spent the 2020/21 season at RB Leipzig where he made just under 20 league appearances and scored three goals. He spent last season in France playing for Nice where he delivered a respectable return of goal contributions with four goals and five assists across 28 appearances. 

A deeper dive

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Firstly, looking at his heat map below from last season at Nice, Kluivert operates more as a left winger but can also move over to the right hand side if necessary. The heat map indicates that he likes to stay wide as much as possible and doesn’t tend to venture into the box on a regular basis.

Kluivert’s heat map last season thanks to WhoScored

Despite spending most of his time outside the box, you’ll be able to see on the graphic below that nearly all of his open play goals in the past four seasons have come from when he’s inside, showing us firstly a potential clinical nature he has when he finds himself in the right position but also potential limited ability to be able to create something out of nothing and lack a potential dynamism you would want from a winger when playing in the Premier League.

Kluivert goals from open play

When you look at his stats as a whole, they aren’t particularly good reading. In the graphic below it shows his stats for his final full season at Roma in 2019/20. Firstly, his ability to regain the ball from the opposition is noteworthy placing him in the top 20% of players in his position with 2.12 regains per 90. Despite this, he is below average in the stats that you’d want a winger to excel in (shots, touches in box, passing %) with him being slightly above average for successful dribbles.

I thought I’d look at the stats from the most recent season to see if any of this has changed. This is what I found.

  • An extremely poor pass completion rate at 64.4%
  • Very average returns in progressive carries and dribbles completed
  • Well below average touches in the opposition penalty box
  • Above average interceptions for someone in his position
  • A winger who isn’t particularly clinical

Yes or no?

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Looking at the stats it is very difficult to make a case that Justin Kluivert is the right fit for Fulham – but on loan it might just be a smart deal.

One positive I will add is Kluivert is only 23 and has a lot of time on his side to improve his game, we are clearly in the market for another winger with Harry Wilson out for the next two months and Manor Solomon reportedly out for even longer. Marco Silva has got the best out of players during his time at Fulham and having a manager who has your full trust and belief could be what Kluivert needs to get his career back on track. It would be a risk and I’m not sure it would pay off.

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