It may be hard to remember now, given how unremarkable his time in Rome has been, but landing Justin Kluivert from Ajax in the summer of 2018 sent Roma fans (and the club itself) into a tizzy. You may recall the club surreptitiously teasing us with news of a splashy signing that summer, gradually releasing teaser images of Kluivert's silhouette next to the squad mascot, Romolo. But the club's subterfuge was well-founded. Fresh off a 10-goal, 5 assist campaign for Ajax (as an 18-year-old, no less), not to mention his famous father, Roma's near €18 million capture of Kluivert felt worth the hype.
While Kluivert chipped in 6 assists during his debut season, the electric young winger failed to earn a consistent role with the squad under Eusebio Di Francesco that season. And unfortunately for Kluivert, he failed to impress EDF's successor, Paulo Fonseca. While he garnered roughly 1,500 league minutes in 2019-2020, Kluivert was out on his ass the following year, spending the '20-'21 season on loan with RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.
And as has so often been the case with Monchi's Misfits, rather than presenting an opportunity for growth, Kluivert's initial loan was an exercise in frustration, as the speedy winger produced little more than 800 minutes on the pitch, though he did manage 3 league goals that season. Thoroughly unimpressed with the then 21-year-old, Leipzig returned Kluivert back to the Italian capital, leaving the Giallorossi scrambling to find another suitable loan for the Dutch winger.
Enter Olympique Gymnaste Club Nice Côte d’Azur, a/k/a Nice. With 2,000 minutes, 6 goals, and 6 assists in all competitions this past season, it seemed like Kluiverty finally found a home for his prodigious talents. However, with no permanent move on the horizon, Kluivert's future was once again thrown into flux.
While Roma GM Tiago Pinto has been busy working his fingers to the bone trying to find a suitable home for Kluivert (Marseille was rumored to be interested), according to the Corriere dello Sport, the now 23-year-old may find a new lease on life in the Eternal City. With José Mourinho's men enjoying the dying days of their summer break, the CdS reports that Kluivert may join the rest of the Giallorossi at their pre-season training camp, slated to being later this month in Mourinho’s native Portugal.
Fans of this famous photo aren't likely surprised by this news, as Mourinho has reportedly admired Kluivert from a distance for years, but that kinship didn't spare Kluivert last summer, so this news is still somewhat shocking; it’s not often that young players get a second chance with Roma.
If, however, the CdS’ reporting is accurate, Kluivert has a golden opportunity this summer. With the squad lacking depth on the wings, Kluivert's impressive bag of skills could enable him to carve out an unexpected (but important) role for Mourinho this season.
Given how much he's traveled over the past few years, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Kluivert is only 23-years-old. However, if Mourinho is seriously considering carrying him on the squad this season, we may finally get a glimpse of the potential that had us all so enthralled four years ago.