I'm not sure if it's because of the economic impact of the pandemic or just Roma's own precarious financial situation, but it seems like a lot of the transfer rumors we've read this spring have centered around full or partial player swaps rather than straight cash sales. Justin Kluivert, Roma's 21-year-old Dutch forward, was the subject of one such rumor last week, with Kluivert reportedly being sent to Arsenal as part of a convoluted scheme to land Henrikh Mkhitaryan on a permanent basis.
Keeping Mkhitaryan should certainly be a high priority for Roma, but if you didn't shiver at the thought of sacrificing a 21-year-old lightning fast winger for an aging midfielder, then you have nerves of steel, my friend.
Given his name and pedigree, and the cloak and dagger manner in which he came to Rome in the first place (remember he was the cartoon wolf in Roma's social media campaign before the signing was officially announced), much was expected of the younger Kluivert. And after an up and down debut season (one goal and six assists), some questioned whether or not Kluivert was worth the hype, but through it all, Kluivert kept a level head, showing a level of understanding, nuance and maturity that belied his young age.
It's hard not to love a player like Kluivert, and we can certainly count Paulo Fonseca among his many admirers. Speaking to Publico (link is behind a pay wall), Fonseca spoke about the comparisons between Justin and his famous father, while also citing Kluivert as the future of the club:
“They’re different...His father was a great player, a great striker. Justin has what it takes to be as good as him. He’s one of the young players that Roma are counting on for the future.”
Roma doesn't have a great track record when it comes to keeping talent around, but as we outlined earlier this month, Kluivert is an almost perfect fit for Fonseca Football® and has already tripled his goals total form last season, so let's hope Fonseca's words carry weight.