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Justin Kluivert, Roma's flying NxGn winger who could outshine his illustrious father

11:00 AM EST 12/21/18
Justin Kluivert
The young Dutchman's move to the Italian capital from Ajax is the next stage in a career that could rival his father Patrick's

He may have a lot to live up to, but Justin Kluivert has shown no sign of being stifled by the weight his name carries.

Following his breakthrough into the Ajax first-team in 2017, the son of former Barcelona striker Patrick ramped up his development and delivery, scoring 10 times and producing five assists in 2017-18 as the Dutch giants ran PSV Eindhoven mightily close to the Eredivisie title.

His forthright style of play was evidenced by the statistics - during 2017-18, Kluivert averaged almost three shots and dribbles per game, while he also executed 1.5 key passes per game in all competitions.

Such an output was always going to pique the interest from clubs higher up the football food chain. Manchester United, Barcelona and Arsenal were all said to be keeping tabs on the youngster, but it was Roma who eventually snapped up his services for a fee of £15.1m.

Starts have become a slightly more precious commodity for the 19-year-old, who has already earned two full international caps for the Netherlands; Kluivert has started seven times in Serie A and the Champions League, though he did become the youngest scorer for Roma in UCL history (19 years, 150 days) when he netted against Viktoria Plzen.

Despite his peripheral role, Kluivert has enjoyed an encouraging start to life with the Giallorossi, especially in Europe's premier club competition - he has executed 1.8 key passes and 2.3 dribbles per game in his four appearances, and will soon be able to test himself against the continent's best in the knockout rounds next year.

A regular starting spot will be at the forefront of his mind ahead of 2019, but Kluivert is certainly enjoying his time in the Italian capital, where he feels he is benefiting under the tutelage of manager Eusebio di Francesco and club stalwart Daniele de Rossi.

“He [Di Francesco] has given me a lot," Kluivert said. "An excellent trainer that I have learned a lot from. He advises me to use my speed. I have to use that to make it difficult for my opponents.”

‘He [Rossi] too has been very important to me. When I came here, he was on vacation. Yet he immediately sent a message to welcome me. That motivated me. He is a phenomenon, on and off the field. It is an honour to be allowed to play with him. He can also speak English well, so I talk to him a lot.”

There is talk that Kluivert could one day follow in his father's footsteps and join Barcelona, but Patrick, now part of the coaching staff with Cameroon, believes his son is currently at the best place for his development - though he had harboured hopes of him staying at the Amsterdam ArenA for one more year.

“I’m very satisfied with what he is doing,” Patrick said. “A job would have been difficult. I think [Manchester] United would have been too big a jump. Roma is an important club, but the pressures are lower.

“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.

“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.”

The past 12 months have been full of success for Kluivert, who looks ready - and has the opportunity, thanks to Roma's Champions League progression - to take the football world by storm in 2019.