Trust me, I didn’t write this post after Ajax – Besiktas. I started this post a day before. But Berghuis’ goal and assist do carry weight of course, considering today’s topic.
This is also not to keep on hammering home a point. This article was in Voetbal International this weekend and it seems only fair to bring this to your attention. As I know this blog has a number of Berghuis fans and Berghuis haters.
Only a month ago, Davy Klaassen position as Ajax’ #10 seemed not open for debate. Mr 1-0, as he is called, seemed to cruise in that role and last season he got 12 goals and 2 assists for his club, as midfielder.
And yes, Kudus and Berghuis could also play the #10 role, but Klaassen wouldn’t be easy to replace.
Berghuis was signed as a right winger, as alternative for Antony. And friend and foe knew, that was going to be a hell of a competition for Berghuis.
In the 3rd Eredivisie match vs Vitesse, Berghuis was even benched and he saw the Brazilian mercurial winger explode, scoring 3 assists.
Ten Hag did use Berghuis in that match, but as sub for the #10 position. Ten Hag: “I said it before, we have to start the competition while we are still trying to gel the team together. We have several players for the #10 role but they’re all a bit different in their execution. I will keep on trying things out when we can, because we need to be as flexible as possible. This particular move worked well and I might try this more often. But it takes time for players to get used to each others moves and patterns. But good players always find a way to play together.”
After the international break, with Berghuis in a key role as a winger, Klaassen returned with a slight injury and the former Feyenoord captain was placed in the #10 role again. Against PEC Zwolle, he had two assists. In the Sporing Lisbon game he scored his first goal and created several chances. Against Cambuur he scored and assisted and versus Fortuna Sittard he scored as well while creating two goals against FC Groningen.
And thus, the discussion started: does Klaassen deserve a protected role? Ten Hag: “No one has a protected role in our team. Davy is a starter, yes, but we have many. We simply look at form and fitness. But we also check what the match needs and what the opponents’ strengths and weaknesses are.” Is Ten Hag able to keep all his players happy? “That is the job of a coach. You don’t control that, 100% but you have to manage it anyway. The team is always more important than the individual. Every player needs to realise this.”
The Berghuis stats are imposing. He was involved in 8 goals in the Eredivisie this season. The only one bettering him is team mate and captain Dusan Tadic, who was involved 9 times. Bryan Linssen (Feyenoord) and Seb Haller are third. Berghuis created 16 chances for team mates. Tadic, Veerman (Heerenveen), Sinisterra (Feyenoord), Wittek (Vitesse) and Gakpo (PSV) are the only ones doing better than Berghuis.
But when we look at his previous seasons in the Eredivisie, Berghuis appears to be a guarantee for hoals. Since he came back from Watford in 2016, there was no player in Holland with more goals (72) than him. Linssen has 64 goals and Tadic has 57 since that time. The latter played less game though. There is also no player with more assists than Berghuis: 54 in 156 matches, followed by Ziyech and Tadic.
Lets look at Europe now. The big Five competitions and the Dutch Eredivisie. Since the 2016/17 season, Thomas Muller is the master assist king: 76 assists in 161 matches. Kevin de Bruyne is second with 68 assists in 155 games, and Messi has 64 in 174 games. Berghuis is fourth, with 54 in 156 matches. Fifth on the list is Papu Gomez (Atalanta and Sevilla) with 50 assists in 174 games.