With a last name like Kluivert, there will always be plenty of open doors for 19-year-old Justin to explore during his professional career.
While that’s certainly an asset and an advantage that might not be afforded to every young player in the game, it also complicates things to a greater degree. Some clubs — typically the bigger ones — might fancy a player like Kluivert, the son of prolific Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert, because he comes with a certain level of name recognition.
Rather than ascending so quickly and reaching the top of the game at such a young age, players without a famous name often make two or three — and sometimes more — moves up the ladder, each time rising to a new level with each new club, placing a priority on playing time and development, before landing with a Barcelona, a Real Madrid, a Bayern Munich, or a Manchester United. The more levels a player is tested and proven at before signing for one of these giants, the more certainty that exists on all sides of the transfer equation.
Back to Kluivert, who just this summer faced this very dilemma. Man United were reportedly interested in bringing him to Old Trafford from Ajax, but thanks to his prior exposure to the inner-workings of the game — and a bit of sound advice from his father, one would assume — Kluivert choose to make a more gradual step up in competition when he signed for perennial Champions League qualifiers Roma instead.
His father, now 42 and assistant coach for the Cameroon national team, could not be more pleased with and proud of his teenage son’s maturity and decision making — quotes from Goal.com:
“I’m very satisfied with what he is doing. He doesn’t speak much, but he is someone who knows how to listen and is motivated, I would have liked to stay in Ajax for another year, but he chose for himself. I think Roma is a good solution.
“A jump to the Premier League would have been difficult… I think United would have been too big a jump. Roma is an important club, but the pressures are lower.
“Roma must not win by force and it is a club that is used to good football. It is the ideal place for Justin right now. Then, who doesn’t dream of Barcelona? But Italian football is catching up and Justin can take advantage of it.”
Those mega-clubs will still be there after Kluivert has spent a couple — or a few — years at Roma and shown he’s not only good enough to compete in the Champions League, but ready to move to club that’s competing for the Champions League.
Kluivert marked his Serie A debut with an assist in Roma’s dramatic win over Torino on Sunday. After breaking down the right wing, it was Kluivert who lofted the ball into the box and found Edin Dzeko to set up the Bosnian’s technically perfect strike in the 89th minute.