When the 2020 MLS season hopefully resumes, one thing is clear. Atlanta United need a stopgap striker until Josef Martinez completes his recovery from ACL surgery. Adam Jahn and J.J. Williams give the club a little bit of depth at the position but neither can be relied upon to be the clinical finisher that a contending team in MLS needs.
One name that has been thrown around as a logical solution to the short-term problem is veteran striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar. The connections are obvious. The Dutch talisman has been all around the world and has a track record for being a classic number nine. While Huntelaar’s time at Ajax didn’t directly overlap with Frank de Boer’s time as manager there, they surely have some kind of relationship.
The 36-year-old had his contract option declined by Ajax on April 1, meaning he’ll become a free agent on June 30 (or whenever the powers that be decide contracts expire for this wild end to the European season). Free is always good for a stopgap solution. No one is supplanting Josef as Atlanta’s top striker, so whoever you bring in needs to have a good mix of production and expendability. This would put Huntelaar in that sweet spot. An aging veteran who could possibly still bang in some goals but not draw the risk of creating a roster conundrum once Josef returns.
All of these factors — experience, cost, and being expendable — are positives. The biggest question marks surrounding Huntelaar are his form and effectiveness. The aging goal-scorer appeared 32 times this season for Ajax, but started just 10 of those matches. He’s notched 10 goals in all competitions.
It’s pretty clear that the former Dutch international isn’t what he used to be in the production department. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have enough left in the tank to be an effective and useful starter in MLS until Josef returns. This match-winning goal embedded above from just a few months ago is proof he’s still capable of putting the ball in the back of the net.
Stylistically, his lack of mobility isn’t a huge concern with the slow and possessive way that De Boer likes to play. Frank already asks his strikers to sit deep and play as a connecting piece of the formation instead of someone who makes a ton of runs behind defenses. That would seem to fit Huntelaar’s strengths quite well.
Still, there are arguments to be made both for and against his signing. He’s just one of many possible candidates to bring in, but he’s 100% available whenever the “summer” transfer window opens.
Have your say below as to whether or not you think Klaas Jan Hunterlaar would be a good fit for the Five Stripes. And if not, who would you want to see brought in?
To Huntelaar or not to Huntelaar?
This poll is closed
Sign him up.
Nah, I’m good.