Roma's relationship with wingers can best be described as excessive and perhaps even a bit abusive; not quite Sid and Nancy but definitely not Ward and June Cleaver. We all remember the winter of 2016 when Roma, still led by Rudi Garcia and his gaggle of wingers, went out and added two more wide players—Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy—only to see Garcia sacked several days later and replaced by Luciano Spalletti. And that pattern continued for the next couple of seasons, as Roma bought and sold more wingers than we can probably count: Mohamed Salah, Juan Iturbe, Patrik Schick, Cengiz Ünder and Justin Kluivert to name but a few.
And it was Kluivert, arguably the player to arrive in Rome with the most fanfare, who remained the last man standing; the last winger to survive Roma's parade of managerial changes and the recent sale of the club.
Justin Kluivert to RB Leipzig on loan [€1,5m] with buy option from AS Roma, deal to be completed soon. Also Hertha Berlin were trying to sign him.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 4, 2020
Medicals tomorrow with RB Leipzig when all details will be sorted, after Thomas Lemar deal collapsed because of his wages. https://t.co/qDk8M6CX3H
According to multiple sources, Roma and RB Leipzig, the same club they sent Schick to last season, are putting the final touches on a €1.5 million loan with an option to buy for the 21-year-old Kluivert, who is set to take his medical exam tomorrow morning.
Depending on the terms of the option, this could be a rather unceremonious ending for a player who was seen by many as Monchi's crowning achievement in the summer of 2018, when Roma beat out a host of suitors to sign the then 19-year-old on a €17.25 million transfer from Ajax.
Whether it was under Eusebio Di Francesco, Claudio Ranieri or Paulo Fonseca, Kluivert struggled to carve out a role in his new home, logging approximately 3,400 minutes in all competitions since the start of the 2018-2019 campaign. In what essentially amounts to a full season of starter's minutes, Kluivert scored eight goals and chipped in nine assists in all competitions—pretty solid all things considered.
While Kluivert actually played slightly more under Fonseca than either EDF or Ranieri, with Fonseca's recent tactical shift, it was fair to question what role any winger would have in the 3-4-2-1, but I'm not sure many expected Roma to chuck both Kluivert and Cengiz Ünder out the window—in fact, back in June, we asked which one Roma were more likely to keep.
If Kluivert follows Schick's example and blossoms in the Bundesliga, Roma will come out winners, welcoming back a more mature player or spinning him off for some measure of plusvalenza.
Either way, this ending is miles away from what we envisioned in the summer of 2018. Kluivert still has loads of talent and potential, so we'll keep tabs on his debut season with Leipzig.
Best of luck, Justin!