by Tom Lees - 7th December 2015
With the high profile summer departure of Memphis Depay to Manchester United, eyes began turning to another talent in the PSV squad, eagerly anticipating his chance to step up and fill the space that Memphis’ transfer had created. The talent in question was teenage sensation Steven Bergwijn, a player who many believe can not only go on to fill Memphis’ shoes, but surpass him and become a superstar for both club and Country.
Originally training with the Ajax youth academy, Bergwijn would decide to leave and join PSV Eindhoven at the age of 13 with the belief that the move would improve his development. It was during the 2014 UEFA U17 Championship tournament, that this development would be on display for everyone to see. Together with Ezra Walian, Bergwijn turned in some match winning performances to help Netherlands qualify for the finals in Malta, scoring 2 goals in the final match of the elite round against a fancied French team. During the finals themselves Steven Bergwijn would go on to be the stand out player, bagging 3 goals and 3 assists as the Dutch made their way to finish runners up, losing on penalties to England in the final. At the end of the tournament Bergwijn was awarded the Golden Player accolade for most valuable player. Considering the players at that year’s tournament, this was a fine accolade.
Compared to both Arjen Robben and Thierry Henry in his style of play, Bergwijn is a versatile quick right footed forward who likes to drift out to the left, finding space before bursting forward with the ball at his feet. With his small frame, quick feet and the way he carries himself on the pitch, the comparison to a young Robinho seems more fitting than either Robben or Henry. One of the most eye catching features of his play is the ability to hit a shot towards goals before you expect, catching defenders and goalkeepers off guard with the power he can generate for someone of such small stature. The one critique levelled at him is that he is better with the ball than without, and might not work as hard going backwards, but he is still very young and Philip Cocu will surely coach this into his game.
Since the departure of Depay, Cocu has slowly been integrating Bergwijn into the PSV first team, gaining experience when possible for the reserves and often making substitute appearances for the first eleven to ease the pressure and progression. It may take a couple of seasons for his talent to shine at senior level, but shine it surely will and he has all the tools to become a global name in the sport, whether he does or not could well depend on his transfer future. Although PSV and the Eredivisie are fine places to learn and play football, it is not one of the elite leagues, eventually to fulfil great potential a player must make a bigger move. The timing of this move will dictate Steven Bergwijn’s future, the temptation will be great to move too soon, a risk that could limit much needed playing time. For the moment Eindhoven, under the management of Cocu, is the perfect place for him, and may well be for a few years yet.
The anticipation for Bergwijn’s career is building across Europe, every now and then a talent appears that excites fans with every touch, a true wonder kid worthy of the tag, Steven Bergwijn has the potential to be special, very special indeed.