May 24, 2017: After his Manchester United side dusted off Ajax to win the Europa League, rather than bathing himself in champagne, José Mourinho sought out a young Justin Kluivert among the post-match scrum, racing over to the then 18-year-old son of the legendary Dutch forward Patrick Kluviert to let him know that he, and not Mourinho, was the special one.
Fast forward five(ish) years and their paths finally connected. Not in The Theatre of Dreams or some other hallowed ground, but in the sun-drenched training grounds of Trigoria. With fans still processing the shocking selection of The Special One as Roma's next manager, our minds immediately went back to that clip. Now that The Special One had his special one, big things were bound to happen, right?
Well, yes and no. Rather than blossoming under Mourinho's watchful eye, Kluivert spent the 2021-2022 season on loan with Nice in Ligue 1, scoring six goals and providing six assists in 31 appearances in all competitions. With his loan expired, Kluivert returned to the Italian capital, and just last week word spread that the Mourinho-Kluivert pairing would finally get a chance to prove their worth, with the now 23-year-old Dutch winger slotting into Mourinho's forward rotation alongside the likes of Nicolo Zaniolo and Eldor Shomurodov.
But, as you probably could have guessed, that was just wishful thinking. According to multiple outlets, including the Corriere dello Sport and La Gazzetta dello Sport, whose reporting was picked up by BBC Sport, Kluivert may trade the red and yellow of Rome for the claret and sky blue of West Ham United. Each of these reports indicates that, along with feelers in the French league, West Ham and Roma are, if you'll excuse the pun, hammering out a €12 to €13 million deal for Kluivert.
While Kluivert hasn't exactly set the world ablaze the past two seasons, he's shown enough consistency that, when coupled with his new chiseled physique, could draw interest from the likes of West Ham and Marseilles, according to these reports. The Gazzetta speculates that, with a solid pre-season camp under his belt, Kluivert may finally find himself in Mourinho's good graces, but, if nothing else, Roma could finally find a permanent home for their once-prized winger.
As always, stay tuned. This story appears to have a few more wrinkles on the horizon.