His dad is a legend of the sport. Now, his son, Justin Kluivert, is followong his steps. Patrick Kluivert intrigued the world with his pace, technique and success at Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona. The 21-years-old Dutchman demonstrates similar abilities on the pitch. With his 171 cm height and a weight of 66 kg, Justin is dynamically and technically outstanding. While his dad played most likely as a striker, Justin can be found everywhere in the offence. But the right-footer is most effective as an inverted left-winger.
In this scout report, we had an eye on Justin Kluivert at his new club RB Leipzig. He went to RB Leipzig on-loan for a year from AS Rome. Leipzig cinched an option to buy the youngster after this season. He is worth EUR 20 million right now. Leipzig is especially variable in their formations, but their tactics remain the same. They follow inevitable principles, independent from the formation. The most promising talents of Europe sign contracts with the 2019/20 semi-finalists of the Champions League. In this tactical analysis, we provide you with a scout report of how Kluivert fits in at RB Leipzig.
The way that RB Leipzig play
RB Leipzig is in third place in the Bundesliga after ten matches played. They just played 3:3 in Munich and have a goal difference of 21:9. Kluivert scored his first goal for Leipzig in this game. Furthermore, the “Roten Bullen” can qualify for the last 16 in the Champions League with a win over Manchester United. So, RB Leipzig is reaching their target right now.
Leipzig sum up for vertical-style, exploiting the spaces in the half-spaces with up and back passes. In their build-up, Leipzig overplay opponents with diagonal passes to the ball-far foot of their teammates. This style accelerates their game.
The German club stand tiered in the vertical and the horizontal direction. As a consequence, they pull opponents out of their lines. In this action is one of Leipzig’s principles depicted. Die Roten Bullen try to tie more opponents with preferably fewer own players. Thereby, creating alleys for run routes and passes.
Leipzig’s principles make it complicated for new players at the club to get in with the group quickly. But coach Julian Nagelsmann is conscious of overwhelming his new players. He aims to challenge them, as then the learning effect is at biggest.
Players like Angeliño, who came to Leipzig from another world-class coach like Pep Guardiola, can integrate easier. Nagelsmann gives his new players adequate time to acclimatise with his principles.
As said before, Leipzig is very variable in its formations and line-ups. They played 40% with a 3-4-3 formation, 30% with a 4-2-3-1 formation and 25% with a 4-3-3 formation. Below is their complete 21-man-squad divided into their positions. Leipzig’s squad is sparsely populated, but most of them can be used flexibly.
To have their feet on three grounds at the same time, Leipzig staffed every position at least twice. Kluivert has with Angeliño and Christopher Nkunku strong competitors for two positions. Nagelsmann erased a classical number 10 from his formations. He replaced it with two inserting wingers, as he wanted to staff the half-spaces. As a result, the former number 10 Forsberg, is shifted to the wings, too.
The team of Julian Nagelsmann overload the centre and the half-spaces. Thanks to the inserting wingers and the double-pivot, RB Leipzig has five players in the central corridor in the offence. This creates space on the flanks for the full-backs on the one hand.
On the other hand, Leipzig force their opponent to play firstly over the flanks, if they lose possession. The centre is compressed. As a consequence, the opponents have to span a longer distance for counter-attacks. The ball has to be played to the wing and then back to the centre. Instead of just playing straight through the centre. In the reserve, it means that Leipzig can play higher.
Leipzig’s offensive play is obedient to the up and back style. The tactical analysis below shows such a situation. It is the scene from the Champions League match against Başakşehir, which resulted in the first goal for Leipzig.
Firstly, you can see how Leipzig overloaded the centre with six players. Every player in the offence acted between the lines. Yussuf Poulsen moved between the centre-back and the full-back. He tied up both of them. Then, Nkunku, who played on the right-wing, moved to the flank. He got the attention of the full-back, who was now in a dilemma. Should he back his centre-back in covering Poulsen or should he follow Nkunku? He decided to position himself between both to react to both potential passes.
Secondly, the double pivot moved also away from the centre. This opens the vertical passing alley for Willy Orban to Poulsen. Poulsen came towards Orban and played as the target man. This pass from Orban was the up. Angeliño realised the tactics and started a run route diagonal into the centre. Leipzig outplayed the complete midfield line from Istanbul with just one pass.
As Poulsen got the ball, he tied up the centre-back. Furthermore, the Dane forced the full-back and the second centre-back to move behind their teammate. They backed him. As they all paid attention to the player with the ball at his feet, Kevin Kampl moved back to the centre. Kampl created a passing alley for Poulsen, who laid-off the ball to Kampl. Angeliño exploited the inattention for him with his diagonal run. Kampl played a lop to Angeliño. He finished it. Kampl and Poulsen played direct passes, which accelerated the game.
So, Nagelsmann is looking for players with intelligent run routes and a great technique to play directly. A winger should have the preference to move inside. Moreover, they should be able to move in a formation to tie up opponents. Sometimes it is not foreseen that they got the ball, like in this situation Nkunku. In the analysis below we compared the heat maps from Kluivert to Forsberg’s, Nkunku’s and Angeliño’s.
Kluivert is gladly located on the left-wing and the half-space. This is exactly what Leipzig is looking for. Also, Kluivert likes to go into the penalty area. His heat map is akin to a mix from Nkunu’s and Forberg’s. Nkuku goes down the line completely in contrast to Kluivert. Forsberg is more often in the centre as Kluivert. Angeliño plays at most like a classical outside player. He maintained down the line. His heat map is at least comparable to Kluivert’s. It seems like Kluivert is more foreseen for the left-winger position, who is inserting into the half-spaces.
Kluivert’s passing and dribbling skills
Justin Kluivert is very strong in dribbling and passing. He says he is already better in these abilities than his dad. He likes the ball at his feet and does not recoil to go into the dribbles against two or more players. He kept possession for 62.5% after his dribbles in the final third. A typical move for Leipzig’s wingers is to dribble into the penalty box horizontally followed by a lay-off. In the analysis below, Kluivert was doing it in the last Rome derby.
Kluivert started his dribbles from outside of the box. He ran in a curved form to get parallel to the baseline. This created more opportunities for the Dutchman as instead of running vertically. He could now feint his opponent to both sides and also through the middle. Lazio attacked him with three players. But Kluivert played a one-two between his legs and won the duel. Afterwards, he played the pass back to Alexander Kolarov. This is the signature move from Kluivert. He dribbles against one or more opponents into the box followed by a lay-off.
Kluivert delivered the ball 12 times per carrying to the penalty area compared to nine crosses. While his passing deliveries have an accuracy of 66.7%, his crosses find in 55.6% of the cases his teammates.
The youngster has a yen to play vertically. His long balls are very accurate and well-timed. This season, every ball, which was longer than 20 metres, was successful. Kluivert has also the accuracy of 64.3%. In the next picture, he connects his technique with an overview.
In the analysis above, Kluivert got the ball on the right wing. Thanks to his ball control, he opened up his body angle. The angle was that big, that he forced his opponent to close the passing alley down the line. Thereby, the diagonal passing alley to Cengiz Ünder opened. This alley looks like a typical “Nagelsmann-alley”. Kluivert demonstrated his overview and played a through the ball with perfect timing.
The analysis above shows a diagram, which compares Kluivert with his teammates. As said before, they are all competitors for a place in the starting squad on the left-wing. We compared their passing accuracy and dribbling success in this analysis. All of them have top values. Kluivert is technically talented as Forsberg and Nkunku.
Angeliño plays a little bit more accurate passes, but this might be because of his initial position. Angeliño plays mostly as a full-back. Hence Leipzig is an absolute top team, opponents do not press high against the full-backs.
Kluivert’s finishing skills
Leipzig’s wingers have to be a threat in front of the goal. When the striker acts like the target man, the wingers will usually finish the attack. RB Leipzig finish and score most of the time inside the central corridor. They manhandle their strikers in optimal positions to raise the probability for a goal. Moreover, Leipzig shoots mostly from zone 14, if they finish with a distance shot. But opponents react to this and compress the centre. As a consequence, Leipzig have to get more variables in their finishers.
Above is the shooting map from Kluivert compared to the one from Leipzig. Kluivert’s is on the left side. The 21-years-old winger is most effective from the left half-space when he moves inside. As a right-footed, he finishes with his strong foot 86.5% of all of his shots. Furthermore, Kluivert can also shoot from distance. Half of his shots came from outside of the box.
Leipzig’s shooting map shows how dependent they are from central finishers. You can see that Kluivert’s shooting behaviour gives Leipzig more variability in their finishers. This makes it even harder to defend against them.
The tactical analysis above shows such a situation, where Kluivert inserted. The Dutchman radiated a sense of calm, as the opponent set him under pressure. One metre of space is already enough for the youngster to finish precisely. He shot with a laces-kick. Here reflected his technique again. The ball did not rotate, which is a sign that he hit it exactly in the middle. Kluivert hit the bar.
In this situation, Kluivert entered the penalty box again from the wing. He moved with pace straight to the opponent defender. As Kluivert started the one-on-one duel, he changed his pace. Now he touched the ball with every step. He moved his body to the left side, especially his shoulders and his hip. As a result, he feinted his opponent who tackled into nothing. Kluivert went to the right side.
The opening space was small again but Kluivert kept calm. He feinted a scoop into the upper right corner. Thanks to this, the goalkeeper translocated his body’s centre of gravity to his left leg. Kluivert demonstrated his intelligence and slotted it home in the opposite corner of the goal.
The diagram above shows the quality of the finishers against self-created opportunities. The quality of the finishers is measured by goals per expected goals. The y-axis is defined as shots after dribbles in the final third. The more a player is to the right top, the more he radiated a threat created by himself.
Here, all four players show different strengths. While Nkunku shows the fewest danger created by himself of all, Angeliño’s finishers are of high quality. Forsberg, as a former number 10, it is his daily bread to finish well. Also, he creates a lot of opportunities for himself by his dribbles. Kluivert outplayed his expected goals of 3.94 with five goals scored. Thanks to his technique, he could finish more often after his pacey dribbles.
Kluivert’s off the ball movement
For RB Leipzig’s style, players must rotate between their positions. Also, they should pull opponents out of their organised lines. They should act like baits. Justin Kluivert is such an unselfish instinct player. Below is an analysis, where he played for AS Rome. Kluivert introduced the counter-attack.
Kluivert passed the ball from the left wing to Diego Perotti. Perotti, who played in the centre, had a lot of green before him. AS Rome created a four against three situation. Now, the run routes were coordinated.
Edin Dzeko crossed Perotti’s run route as the only striker. Ünder moved to the right wing. To spread out the defensive three, Kluivert moved to the left-wing. This created one-on-one duels on the wings and a numerical advantage for Rome in the centre. Kluivert’s chance to get the ball was low, but the probability of Rome’s attack rose thereby. Coach Nagelsmann’s tactics are based on these unselfish run routes.
The build-up in the situation above is similar to Leipzig’s build-up. Rome built-up vertical. Therefore, the players have to understand their tactics and need to rotate mutually. Bryan Cristante played in this situation as the pivot. Kolarov was the left full-back. Kluivert played as the left-winger. They switched their positions in a triangle. This rotation is difficult to defend.
Kluivert started the rotation with his run onto the ball. He took the position of the pivot. This movement let Kolarov push up. Kolarov played in this situation as the left-winger. Cristante played the pass to Kluivert and moved onto the position of the left full-back. So, every position was taken again. To build-up in a complex formation like this, you need players who can read the game. Julian Nagelsmann is also known for his complex style.
RB Leipzig is one of the most promising teams in Europe. They play in a vertical style and are very variable in their formations. Coach Nagelsmann needs players, who are comfortable with the ball at their feet. Furthermore, they need to be quick on the pitch and in the head, too. His players have to understand his principles. This is something, where new players have difficulties to catch up with the team. But Leipzig ensure enough time to develop into Leipzig’s system.
Justin Kluivert is a talented youngster, who collects all of the abilities. The 21-years-old winger is pacey, technically outstanding and shows some football intelligence. His direct competitors on his most likely position are certainly on an absolute top level. This makes it difficult for him to always get a starting position. On the other hand, Leipzig’s system just worked out thanks to their rotation. Absolute permanent starters are rarely in Leipzig. The players get a pause to regenerate regularly. All in all, Justin Kluivert is a perfect fit at Leipzig – for RB Leipzig and Justin Kluivert himself.