Although it is only June and the transfer window is yet to formally open, Roma sporting director Monchi has been active and alert to all possibilities, adding Dinamo Zagreb starlet Ante Coric, Porto’s defensive rock Ivan Marcano and Atalanta’s Bryan Cristante, a much coveted Italy international midfielder.
Juan Jesus’ abysmal display at Anfield in the Champions League semi-final confirmed that the Inter flop was not of Roma’s level and needed to be replaced, while the Giallorossi’s brilliant but ageing midfield is in dire need of added cover, making these shrewd signings that will at the very least become useful squad players.
There is another on the horizon, the jewel in Ajax’s crown and a target across Europe’s top five leagues. Justin Kluivert is close, and after his father confirmed that the transfer was 90% complete, his announcement could happen any day now. With the price tag rumoured to be as low as €20m, the Netherlands international presents a low financial risk, but is the young forward what the Lupi really need?
With Edin Dzeko, Diego Perotti, Stephan El Shaarawy, Patrik Schick, Cengiz Under, Mirko Antonucci and Gregoire Defrel currently occupying the forward slots on the Roma roster and Ezequiel Ponce, Marco Tumminello and Umar Sadiq set to return from loan spells, there may not be room for the Dutchman. Although this is the transfer window and there is speculation over the futures of Defrel and El Shaarawy, it doesn’t necessarily constitute reason to spend €15m on another forward for an already top-heavy squad.
However, Kluivert’s searing pace and incredible close control could make him an asset to a Coach like Eusebio Di Francesco, while his average of four tackles completed per 90 minutes shows that he also tracks back, a pre-requisite for the former Sassuolo boss. The Ajax man also reportedly turned down Tottenham Hotspur after his current club tried to offload him behind his back, showing that there may be an older head on his young shoulders, although this is no doubt helped by his father, the great Patrick Kluivert.
Eredivisie imports haven’t always succeeded in Serie A (just ask Kluivert Senior) and there is no doubt that the once great league has suffered a steep decline within the past two decades, but the same assumptions were made over Kevin Strootman and Dries Mertens. However, clubs from the Netherlands have especially struggled in Europe, with the nation failing to produce a Champions League quarter-finalist since 2007, and that lack of experience could cost the Giallorossi considering their newfound confidence in continental competition. As Kluivert is still of a tender age, it presents a great opportunity for Di Francesco to mould him into the kind of forward that he wants, much like the unexpected success story of Cengiz Under this season.
Roma’s foray into the Champions League semi-finals is hoped to be the start of something, and the fact that they were Trent Alexander-Arnold’s right hand away from a place in the Kiev showpiece shows just how much Roma have evolved this season under Monchi and Di Francesco, although this will raise question marks over whether Kluivert is the kind of player that Roma need to stay at this level.
With the young Dutchman having aspirations of following in his father’s footsteps and playing for Barcelona one day, Roma can be just as important for him as he could be to the club, should he cope well with the jump in quality from Eredivisie to Serie A.
All things considered, Kluivert is worth the risk for Roma, providing they don’t expect too much from him too soon. However, Roma fans are notoriously critical, and a few bad performances could see him thrown to the wolves in the same fashion as Simone Loria, Julio Baptista and Ashley Cole, so more of that mental strength will be needed.