For the Kluivert family the old saying rings true: like father, like son.
In the 1990s Patrick Kluivert established himself in the Ajax first team while still a teenager. Soon he was regarded as one of the most exciting young players in European soccer.
Fast forward a little more than 20 years and Justin Kluivert was treading the same path. He was in the Ajax first team by the age of 17 – a year earlier than his dad – and had soon established a reputation as young star on the rise.
Yet the similarities don’t end there. When Patrick left Ajax back in 1997 he went to test himself in Serie A and joined AC Milan. This summer Justin, whose resemblance to his father is unmissable, left the familiar and safe world of Dutch football to head to Italy, joining AS Roma.
Already stepping out of his dad’s shadow, the move to the Giallorossi will allow the 19-year-old the opportunity to forge his own path.
And in this summer’s International Champions Cup – the biggest summer tournament in club soccer – Kluivert can prove to the world that he is a player who deserves to be thought of in his own right.
What he brings to Roma
Kluivert is an exciting signing for Roma, but also one that makes perfect sense. The Serie A side love to spring quick counter-attacks on their opponents, racing down the wings to create dangerous chances, a style that the Dutch winger will suit.
His speed and acceleration means he can, and regularly does, burst past opposition defenders and his superb technique allows him to maintain control of the ball despite running at full speed.
The fact he is two-footed makes him even more unpredictable; opposition defenders simply don’t know if the young Dutchman will take them down the outside or cut infield onto his right foot in order to shoot. He’s been known to leave defenders falling to the turf, arms out and grasping at thin air as he skips past them.
There’s little doubt Kluivert has the potential to become a Roma star, just like many have before him.
The club’s recent history is littered with smart additions who’ve gone on to become world class talents.
Mohamed Salah, Edin Džeko and Stephan El Shaarawy made for a scintillating front three during the second half of the 2016-17 season.
Dzeko and El Shaarawy continued in that vein of form last term, ably helped by one of the other exciting youngsters the Italian club has brought in, Turkey’s Cengiz Ünder.
A new chapter
Being bought by Roma is a sign of approval for Kluivert; not just because they’re one of Italy’s most historic sides but because so many of their recent additions have proven to be stars in the making.
After starting his career at Ajax, this will be Kluivert’s first club where there are no direct comparisons to make between himself and his father.
Roma’s summer signing is a very different kind of player to his father, though. Where Patrick was a powerful central striker, Justin is a slight fleet-footed winger, although one who still managed close to six touches inside the opposition box per 90 minutes last season.
But their differing styles hasn’t stopped Justin being able to learn from his father’s experiences.
“He has obviously been very important to my development because he has already been there before himself,” he said earlier this year.
“He has experienced it all first hand and you can only learn from that. If someone makes a mistake, he’s not likely to make that same mistake again.
“So, I am that person now and his experiences help me. I learn from his mistakes in that regard. Of course, I still make some mistakes, but I learn from those as well. That’s part of my development.”
That level-headed attitude will undoubtedly help Kluivert at Roma. He will have to prove himself once again, starting at the International Champions Cup, but there’s little doubting the teenager’s huge potential.