Cristiana Girelli is Serie A Femminile’s flagship name because everyone loves a goalscorer and the headlines their goals bring in. Yet there’s one element behind Girelli’s success that arguably no one else in Serie A can match: Her aerial dominance in the box.
It doesn’t half make Juventus’ job easier down the flanks, knowing they can float a ball into the opponent’s area and feel confident that Girelli will get on the end of it. Earlier this summer, we asked if Roma couldn’t look abroad and sign an international-caliber striker to copy the blueprint of Girelli’s success in Turin. Now it looks like Roma have done that by signing striker Nina Kajzba who, while not expected to be immediately Serie A-ready at just 17 years of age, looks like the next potentially game-breaking talent on the peninsula.
Number Nine: Nina Kajzba
Previous Club: Pormuje
Future Comparison: Sam Kerr
Who Is She?
Kajzba is a complete striker who’s just slammed in 32 goals in 14 appearances for Slovenian club ZNK Pomurje last season. Despite still being only 17 years of age, one look at Kajza’s blend of physique and acceleration would tell you (if the 2-goals-per-game ratio didn’t already say so) that teenager Kajza was simply finding it too easy back in her domestic league.
Taking the trip West across the border from Slovenia to Italy is a well-traveled path in football, with former Roma player and Slovenia international Kaja Erzen previously enjoying success as a young, prolific striker for the very same club Pomurje before Erzen arrived on Serie A shores. A similar parallel between Erzen and Kajzba’s career paths is that both have played all over the pitch for their country, with Kajzba’s form for her club earning her a senior international debut with Slovenia in 2021. Kajzba also played and scored in last season’s Champions League with Pomurje, so she has some accolades to which precious few of her current Roma teammates can lay claim.
What Can She Do?
The sky looks to be the limit for Kajzba. We only literally saw Kajza play in Roma’s pre-season calendar, for the very first time, today off the bench against Empoli in a closed-doors friendly. That’s because her move from Pomurje had yet to be made official all summer long, even if Kajzba trained with the Roma senior squad for the best part of this summer nonetheless. So we’re basing our opinion purely on the notoriously shaky ground of Youtube highlights videos, but Kajzba immediately struck us as an ambitious move by Roma all the same.
She’s not only got the height advantage in the box, but Kajzba makes herself a constant threat all around the final third and even as far back as the halfway line on the counter-attack. For such a relatively tall player, Kajzba actually has a surprising turn of pace in her locker and can switch on the afterburners to stay ahead of defenders once she gets beyond their backline.
If that isn’t enough, Kajzba's vision enables her to put teammates through on goal (like in the video above) and she can also provide cool finishes under pressure inside the area with both feet. She has a wealth of options with which she can impact the scoreline, but Roma has to be looking to Kajzba as their long-term aerial threat to rack up headed goals in Italian football.
What Can She Become?
Surprisingly, Kajzba’s best chance at making a senior debut with Roma looks to be at the beginning of this coming season rather than later. Like we mentioned earlier, as soon as Roma had the opportunity to play Kajzba off the bench this pre-season, the club jumped at the opportunity to play her at center-forward against Empoli today.
That’s because Roma’s first-choice striker Paloma Lazaro is still out—after testing positive for COVID—and has been forced to miss Roma’s entire pre-season calendar as a result. That leaves Roma going into the new season with new-signing Valeria Pirone as the only recognized center-forward at the club—though we have a couple of names later in this U-23 Countdown that could give Pirone a run for her money, and Kajzba looming in the background.
If the Slovenian striker isn’t immediately thrown in the deep end and Lazaro returns to action soon enough, then perhaps Kajzba spends the rest of this season alternating between senior squad call-ups and Primavera action. The rest of the Primavera league won’t thank Roma for introducing them to Kajzba though; it’s one thing for Roma to have won two consecutive league titles at U-19 level, but gunning for a third-straight Primavera league title by unleashing Kajzba on the Primavera league seems like a ruthless move.
Kajzba could take U-19 football by storm and rack up the goals, perhaps even being the key piece that finally helps Roma Primavera to conquer the Viareggio Cup (they’ve come close and lost a final in the last couple of seasons but never won it). Yet the more interesting question surrounds Kajzba’s long-term prospects at the very top. In that sense, we’ve got her framed to be the next Sam Kerr.
We could have compared Kajzba to Girelli but, if things go to absolute plan for Nina in the Eternal City, she’s probably not very long for this league. She could achieve dominance in the game on a global scale as, just like Kerr, Kajzba really does have the whole set of skills to become the all-around center forward.