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Arsenal and Justin Kluivert: Why the hell not?

Per reports, super-agent Mino Raiola is trying to engineer a swap deal between Arsenal and Roma regarding Justin Kluivert and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Why the hell not?

I’m not Mino Raiola’s biggest fan. His entire business model is built off of engineering big moves for big players and taking a big cut for himself in the process, a cut that Arsenal do not have the capital to fund. But sometimes you have to do a deal with the devil.

Per La Gazzetta dello Sport, Raiola is trying to engineer a move that would see Roma’s Justin Kluivert make a north London switch for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is currently on loan with the Italians. Raiola represents both players and could be set to play a key role in any potential deal, and it is one that the Gunners should explore.

The young Dutchman is currently sitting on seven goals and three assists this campaign. Mkhitaryan, meanwhile, tallied six strikes and four assists in the same amount of time. They are very much on par in a very solid Roma side. But that is where the similarities end.

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Kliuvert earns, £38,000 per week, although this would rise significantly with a transfer. Mkhitaryan earns £250,000 per week. Then there is the age. Kliuvert is a full decade younger than his teammate and offers substantially more long-term potential for an Arsenal team that is building towards the future.

Roma have already demonstrated interest in making Mkhitaryan’s move a permanent one, something Arsenal seemed unwilling to do at the time. However, Kluivert starts a different conversation than a £10-15 million transfer fee. The Italian club bought him for £20 million back in 2018 and his value has gone up marginally since then, but he could flourish under Mikel Arteta.

A young winger of Kluivert’s talent, pedigree, and future value is worth his weight in gold, and all the club has to give up to get him is a player they don’t need or want and a little extra cash to sweeten the deal. There is also a strong floor. If Kliuvert fulfils his talent, he is a steal; if he doesn’t, he will still command a decent fee in the transfer market that would make up for a large portion of the initial investment.

Now that’s not to say there aren’t any issues with the deal. Arsenal have to monitor the financial aspects of this deal very carefully if they’re to come out on top of it. Entering a Raiola negotiation is like swimming in quicksand. He’s proven time and time again the problems he can cause for managers and boardrooms. But his client list is a potential gold mine of talent and one the Gunners might have to tap into every once in a while.

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Another potential downside is the added cash that Arsenal will have to provide. If the amount is any higher than £10 million, it’s not worth it, plain and simple. They will have to pinch every penny they can in order to get through the coronavirus-enforced strictures upon their transfer budget, and Kluivert has not shown enough talent to dredge up the £35-40 million Roma would likely demand in a straight-cash deal.

Moreover, Arsenal already have a glut of young wingers. Kliuvert will compete with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the starting left-wing role, while Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson man the right side. With other issues to solve, is spending on a young, unproven winger sensible?

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For the right price, this deal has a number of upsides and very few downsides. But it has to be the right deal. Kluivert isn’t the future of the team. He isn’t the dream winger. But he is a very useful player, with a lot of potential, and he could prove himself very useful. So why the hell not?

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