Ex-NXGN winner Justin Kluivert: The long wait for the breakthrough

Justin Kluivert was once one of the greatest promises for the future. So far, he has rarely shown what he’s capable of in Leipzig. What’s next? At the U21 European Championship finals, Kluivert will meet France in the quarter-finals with the Netherlands (6 p.m. in the LIVETICKER).

It was one of those strokes of genius that one would have wished for more often from Justin Kluivert in Leipzig: In the penultimate game of the season against VfL Wolfsburg, the Dutchman processed a long, precise pass from teammate Marcel Sabitzer worth seeing, sent Wölfe defender Kevin Mbabu with a clever fake shot the bottom of the pants, pushed in easily to 1: 2 from RB’s point of view and thus completed his technical masterpiece.

A week later, at the season finale, the 22-year-old attacker turned Union goalkeeper Andreas Luthe and contributed his second goal in a row. A halfway conciliatory end to a difficult and tough season, at the end of which the somewhat sobering record of 29 competitive games, four goals and only one template is to be booked.

Kluivert, who won the then NXGN edition of goal emerged, wanted to get his somewhat stalled career in the trade fair city going again in October of last year, and switched to Leipzig on loan from AS Roma. Two years earlier, the son of Barcelona legend Patrick Kluivert had approached the Saxons, but eventually he moved to the Eternal City in Italy. “I was actually here two years ago and looked at the training facility,” he revealed in an exclusive interview with SPOX and in February 2021 Goal. Kluivert added: “I can’t say why I didn’t come here back then.”

“All the happier” he was now that it worked with a move to Leipzig at the second attempt, said Kluivert and added: “The level is very, very high, we play in the Champions League and at the very top of the Bundesliga . These are the perfect conditions for young players like me. “

Justin Kluivert on RB Leipzig: “The perfect conditions for young players like me”

“In the end, my father only wanted the best for me,” said Kluivert SPOX-Interview. “In his opinion, the best thing for me would have been to stay at Ajax for another year. It’s important to listen to what your parents think. But it’s also important to listen to yourself.” The step to the Giallorossi felt right back then.

And looking back? “From my point of view, the change was very helpful. I had a lot of great moments at Roma, but I also had to go through one valley or another. I hadn’t known anything about that before,” he said. Kluivert explained: “For years at Ajax I had almost always had only positive experiences. Being confronted with bumps for the first time allowed me to mature. It was good to notice that a career does not always go up steeply. but also depths are part of it. “

In the meantime he had to cross the said valley in Leipzig. A calf injury put him out of action at the turn of the year, and coach Julian Nagelsmann did not seem to be able to offer an adequate position in his system for the nimble, tech-savvy flinger. In the Bundesliga, Kluivert only made eight start-up appearances, in front of the opponent’s goal he was repeatedly lacking the necessary coolness, only 33.3 percent of his big chances resulted in a goal (source: Opta).

In one specific case, Kluivert’s weakness was even publicly criticized by Nagelsmann. After Kluivert had left a good opportunity against Eintracht Frankfurt, the trainer complained: “He drifts very far onto the wing, although he has a free run in the center.”

Not the coach’s first criticism. “There was the phase when we played against Bayern Munich and Manchester United (early December, Kluivert scored once in both games). We saw the Kluivert we were hoping for. Unfortunately, it was gone again,” said Nagelsmann at the end of February and complained above all that the newcomer was susceptible to injury. “I see him very little in training. That is also the problem. He has to become more stable as far as his body is concerned.”

Nagelsmann gone: will Kluivert stay with RB Leipzig in the long term?

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