The numbers say we will all love Justin Kluivert

Since last month has been a quiet one you would think there isn’t a whole lot to talk about. We played a great game against RB Leipzig and grabbed a decent victory over PEC Zwolle. Good thing for statisticians: there’s always something to talk about.

Amin Younes, scoring an impressive hat-trick in the winter break friendly against the most hated club in Germany, seemed to have recovered from his poor first half-season form. Better yet, it took the German winger only 24 minutes to find the back of the net thrice. Can’t think of an Ajacied who netted a hat-trick in a shorter timespan this season? Sure you can. None other than Kasper Dolberg banged in a 18-minute hat-trick at home against NEC.

On to even more important matters; Justin Kluivert’s first team debut. The son of legendary Ajax striker Patrick Kluivert was subbed on in the first half of last weekend’s Eredivisie game against PEC Zwolle and shocked the world. Whilst he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet – uncharacteristically enough for an Ajax debutant – he did put in a more than solid performance in the 51 minutes he got to play. He completed 100% of his 6 attempted dribbles and played a huge part in the Amsterdammers’ opening goal, as it was Justin’s sleek through-ball that led to El Ghazi being brought down inside the box for a penalty.

Kluivert completed 82% of 11 attempted passes, 2 of which were considered key passes. If you were to compare this with other wingers in the squad: Younes averages 1.6 key passes per game, while El Ghazi does even worse with just 0.7 key passes per game. Of course, this all is based off of just 51 minutes of Eredivisie action, but the first statistical signs are promising. If he keeps this up, we’ll soon all be cheering for Kluivert Junior.

Another notable event this month was Peter Bosz naming Andé Onana the undisputed first team goalkeeper for the remainder of the season, despite the presence of Newcastle United loanee Tim Krul. It didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. Onana has done a brilliant job filling the gap left behind after Jasper Cillessen completed his Barcelona transfer at the start of the season.

Comparing Onana’s statistics of this Eredivisie season with that of Cillessen’s last season at Ajax, the numbers will state the same. Both have a 50% clean sheet ratio. Cillessen conceded 0.6 goals per game last season, while Onana does slightly worse with 0.7 conceded goals per game. However, he does make more saves per game than Cillessen (1.9 vs 1.2) and has 2.6 saves per conceded goal against Cillessen’s 1.9. This indicates it takes the opponent more attempts to beat Onana than it does Cillessen, though these numbers don’t take into account the quality of said attempts.

The biggest difference between the current and former Ajax goalie is in my opinion also the most important factor. Onana is far better at distributing the ball, managing to find a teammate with 80% of his attempts whilst Cillessen is stuck at 69%. With a playing style based on dominance and possession it’s extremely important for a goalkeeper to not lose the ball through sloppy passing.