Oranje’s future: Steven Bergwijn

Last time Ronald Koeman called up Holland’s best players, Steven Bergwijn wasn’t part of it. The youngster was flabbergasted. But Koeman felt he was needed for Young Oranje, while the seniors had players like Promes, Babel and …eh… Vormer… Bergwijn didn’t say anything untoward, but ended up canceling his Jong Oranje match due to an “injury”.

I don’t think Koeman will make that mistake again.

Steven Bergwijn has demonstrated yet again, in the first matches of this season, that he is a talent to be reckoned with. Probably in the same category as Memphis Depay. PSV this season has a perfect score (not taking into account the thrashing vs Barca). But the attacking intentions of coach van Bommel are clear: 6 goals vs Willem II, 7 against ADO Den Haag, 3 against Ajax… PSV is on a roll!

Bergwijn: “There is a good and positive vibe in this squad. The technical staff is responsible for this. And everyone is happy with this coach. Van Bommel talks to all the players and all players feel they’re part of it. But Van Bommel is no softie, he can be very strict and clear in what he expects. They’re open but also very serious when they need to be.”

The Ajax game last week was a special one for Bergwijn (and for Pablo Rosario). Both players started their youth career in Amsterdam with Ajax and both were basically told they weren’t right for Ajax. “I am no longer concerned with that, it’s been a while now. I left Ajax behind me. Sure, it’s going to be a super to play agains them, as it was last season when we won the title against them, hahaha. But other than that, no hard feelings.”

“But Ajax, they will always be good, always have great players. But so do we. And you need to with all these matches in the different competitions. And we have a tough group with the CL right? But I’m cheering inside. I mean, you wanna play at the top of your game, well… Barca, Spurs, Inter… there you have it. You can’t complain man, it’s awesome. I think people see us as the underdog. Fine. We’ll show them on the pitch.”

The match vs Barca was special for Bergwijn. His big idol was on the pitch: Lionel Messi. Once, Bergwijn was on  holiday in Spain and happened to be going to a Barca match with his dad, his uncle and little brother. And they ended up in the same hotel as Barcelona. “Not only that, in those days to get some internet, the players had to rely on the business centre in those hotels. And I was there with my brother, when Messi and other Barca players walked in to check some stuff online. Ha, so I got my first picture with him, and now we’re in the same group in the Champions League. How cool!”

The youngster is already one of the key players in this PSV. Last season, he had to wait for Locadia to move on and for Lozano and De Jong to allow Steven a place in the sun. “Last season, I was playing in service of them, this season we’re all similar I suppose, in terms of hierarchy. And the expectations are higher now, sure. But that is cool, I want that. I need to defend more now, as we play more dominant and higher up the pitch, so I have a role to play when we lose possession. I defend more, but still, run less yards, as we are so high up.”

Usually, when a player like Bergwijn breaks into the first team, the bigger clubs in Europe start to circle. But Bergwijn won’t leave PSV for any amount under 20 Mio euros. Last season, Bordeaux had the check book out and this summer Arsenal, Tottenham and PSG have enquired about Steven’s contract status. “That’s nice, it gives me confidence but I haven’t thought about leaving, not one second. I want to stay here, I won’t go for the quick buck. When I keep on developing, the money will follow. I want to be important for PSV, score a lot of goals, play well in the CL and make my mark in Oranje. I can develop and grow here. I recently extended my deal until 2022 and that gives me peace and quiet in my head. I don’t think anyone expects me to stay until the end, to be honest, and I have a plan moving forward, but for now it’s all PSV. I want to make a move at some stage, but I want to enter a new club with some status. At PSV, I will make my minutes, play for trophies and play in Europe. So I am not in a hurry to leave now and end up on the bench. But yes, one day…Spain or England….”

Bergwijn is seen as a new super talent and experts and analysts all are in agreement, this lad will go far. He’s got the skills but also the power. He’s explosive, doesn’t shun the hard work and is a beast on the training pitch. “This summer I had two weeks of nothing and I got bored senseless. I called my uncles and decided to start training. I won’t do a lot of weights though, I don’t want to bulk up, that is not good. But core stability training and a lot of boxing.”

All is going well for Steven, but there is a dark spot on his heart and he is keen to talk about it when he can. Abdelhak Nouri, the Ajax talent who sadly ended up in coma after his heart malfunction last year, was Steven’s best buddy. “We met at Ajax when we were little kids. And we were so close. And we still are. Life is quite hard since that dreadful day. I still talk to his brother every day. I guess I can handle it better now, but it’s still super tough. His parents tell me he is slowly improving. I pray every day, and believe in the power of the Lord. Appie always wanted for me what was best for me, and he is now also a silent motivator for me, I need to get everything out of my career, for him as well.”

Bergwijn has always been compared to Memphis. Not a fair comparison of course, but a logical one. Both are explosive, good dribblers, unpredictable and playing from the wing. Now, Memphis has had a fair share of developments (lessons) already, while Bergwijn only now seems to have the status of a key player for PSV.

His strengths…

Ball skills. Bergwijn has amazing ball skills, the ball is always on a string with him. There are not many players who are capable of taking a man on and leaving him behind to create a man more situation (like Arjen Robben can). This is a quality that is worth millions in football. It mostly makes the difference. And this is why Messi, C Ronaldo, Mo Salah and Eden Hazard are paid the big bucks. And why Memphis is currently the key man up front for Oranje. Bergwijn’s dribbles are testament to the fact he might well be our next key man up front!

Shooting qualities. Memphis was only 17 years old when Holland witnessed that sensational weapon that is his right foot. Memphis can place them, curl them, hit a rocket or hit a swirling ball. Bergwijn needs to work on his shooting technique. The stats show that Bergwijn is making good progress. In 2016/2017, he had a return of 5% (shots vs goals). In 2017/2018, that % went up to 11% and in this current season, he is already at 24%. So every fourth goal attempt is a goal. Only Klaas Jan Huntelaar does better ( 46%!!) while Bergwijn is in the same league as top players like Tadic, Van Persie and Lozano.

Tactical smarts. Players like Messi, Hazard and Griezmann are adept in finding the space in between the lines or in the half spaces. This is a skills Bergwijn still needs to work on. But he is developing well in that respect. A big plus for Bergwijn, he is happy to run in behind and get the ball in front of him, while most forwards in Oranje (but in general too) want the ball in their feet: Berghuis, Promes, Babel, Memphis… Kluivert and Bergwijn both love running without the ball, a very hard to defend weapon.

Eye for his team mates. Bergwijn is not an egotistical player but he can still improve here. Steven Berghuis for instance, created 22 chances for team mates, Robin van Persie 10. Tadic of Ajax, 17. Bergwijn is stuck at 7, one less than Luuk de Jong.

Mentality. Bergwijn is a young player who will make tactical mistakes, but lack of work ethics is not one of them. He was instrumental vs Ajax to keep Frenkie de Jong quiet for instance. Koeman will have enjoyed his game, and will have seen that Stevie is capable of fitting in the defensive shape and playing with his head, not just his feet.

It is highly likely that Bergwijn will be part of Koeman’s definitive squad this time around and make minutes for the senior Oranje, as Van der Looi already announced to select younger player for Young Oranje moving forward.


Bookmark and Share


  1. If he did fake a injury to avoid U21 which seems like it then I do not really think this kid has a good work ethic, if he is unhappy with Koeman’s decision then play well for U21 and qualify for the Euro U21. Apparently he did not have the guts to do it.

  2. His weakness is he simply cant work in tight spaces and when his momentum dies his done. This is the same thing that happened to depay at EPL. Less space to work with and defenders easily contained him because he was predictable cutting on his right foot.

    Groeneveld danjuma look good on both feet and is more explosive than Bergwijn.

    Being said this a left footed winger is long overdue in NT and I think its time to move away from inverted wing system.I would prefer someone like leroy sane who can provide those quality crosses from the flanks.

  3. Re Bayern v. Ajax: Frenkie De Jong is out injured. Looks like Wober is starting at CB, and Blind moving into the MF. Also, Van De Beek is in the starting lineup, Huntelaar is not.

  4. Justin Hoogma (20) during Hoffenheim 1-2 Manchester City
    8 tackles: More than any other player
    1 interception
    4 clearances
    1 blocked shot
    77.8% pass completion

  5. Ajax looked really good tonight. No parking the bus to look for a draw; they played to win, and it was a terrific game. Had more clear cut chances than Bayern.

    Tadic had two excellent opportunities just after the break, Schone hit the cross bar late on a free kick; Van De Beek missed one he’ll probably remember when he is a great grandfather.

    Onana was strong in goal, and one magnificent save.

    The forwards were excellent. Tadic and Ziyech were dangerous and creative all night. Van De Beek was the unsung guy, as usual, always there in support and linking up with the other attackers. No coincidence that the offense fell off a little after De Witt substituted for him around the 70th minute.

    Blind and Schone played well in MF. Schone did so much of the dirty work.

    The backline, even with Wober as the sub was superb. De ligt reminds me a little of Chievu back in the early 2000’s. Skilled,leading the line with spirit, and never giving an inch. And what can you say about Masr.? His offensive skill was on display with the goal, but he shines on defense. Sews up his wing, flies back on defense when he goes forward and has to track back, covers for others. He gave Ribery nothing all night. If keeps on this path, he may end up being considered one of the best right backs in the world in a few years.

    A great night for Ajax…and without Frenkie De Jong.

    Looking forward to a good performance from an underdog PSV tomorrow night.

    1. The u19s also drew 2-2 and I must say they have good squad. With the jong Ajax contingent dominating the line up, they could go far in the youth league. Bakker, Lang, ekkelenkamp, Gravenberch, Botman all had a good game.

      Joshua Zirkzee for bayern didnt make much impression to me and compared to brobbery looked out of ideas. Being said this didnt get much service either.

      I really hope Bakker will force his way into Ajax lineup come next season. He is still 18 but
      When he plays with his age group he clearly looks to be alevel above them. If not he should be loaned out to bottom feeder clubs like Emmen, Fortuna sittard, De Graafschap.if Im not wrong then Mino Railoa is also his agent. Im sure he will be monitoring his situation should he doesnt get to play in Ajax soon.

      1. Tahith Chong and Millen Baars also both featured for Man united u19s thrashing Valencia 4-0.chong had one assist and a goal while Baars came of the bench to score the winner.

    2. I was very surprised by Van de Beek. He had a wonderful all around game last night against one of the best teams in the world. I’m sure he’ll never forget that miss but it should not take away from his overall performance. Even the commentators were praising him throughout the game and comparing him to Frank Lampard at one point. IF he keeps up his performance maintains consistency, he is destined for great things.

      Onana was another standout performer. He did very well to grind out a point from the game.

      Overall, it was a very interesting game to watch. Ajax should be proud of their performance. That game should have ended 3-1 if weren’t for their missed chances.

      They were clearly the better team. I hope they go further into this tournament.

  6. I personally rate Bergwijn higher than any other Dutch attackers in his age group (J. Kluivert, Groeneveld, Lammers, Zivkovic, etc). IMHO Bergwijn over time will slowly transition to a more central position, a “9.5” or secondary/shadow striker – similar to Depay’s path.

    Two things that stand out for me on Bergwijn. First, his ability to absorb challenges, stay on the feet and muscle through. This is not only due to his body strength, but also his sheer determination. Last weekend match vs. NAC was a prime example. He eluded two heavy tackles, maintained control of the ball, sped through and delivered a perfect pass for Malen to tap in. I see this a lot from Bergwijn, and is becoming his trademark move. Second, Bergwijn is a high-IQ player. He understands space and positioning well, especially for his young age. You can tell by his overall movement… switching flank with Lozano, dropping deep and getting in front of goals just behind Luuk De Jong. He is very fluid and smooth, and I rarely see him caught of position. He is not “eye-to-ground” kind of player, that you usually see in a one-dimensional winger, e.g. Narsingh, Afellay, Beerens, etc.

    What I like to see him improving is his finishing… quick trigger, shot placement, and overall ability to bury chances. He is not prolific and deadly, just yet. He does makes opponent’s GK busy, but he needs to be on the scoresheet, a lot more often than he currently is.

    Overall, I likened Bergwijn with a younger, less-mature (beta version) of Kun Aguero. Aguero is blessed with fantastic on-the-ball technique and flair, which I don’t think Bergwijn will ever get to that level. That said, Bergwijn has demonstrated a tremendous work ethic that I think will carry him a lot (see Daley Blind, Kuyt). Low ceiling for him would a journeyman like Babel or Lens. Serviceable for Oranje, but not a difference-maker. Both were ex-wingers getting more time in a central position.

      1. I think wingback role limits his full potential offensively because defensively when playing with top teams, he ends up track back alot rather attacking.

    1. They are familiar with Ajax. That maybe one reason.
      They need a quality striker upfront. Luuk de Jong may be okay for the Eredivisie but he isn’t going to cut it at the CL level. They had a decent game vs Barca until the 70th minute and they collapsed after that. They could have at least managed a draw vs Inter if it wasn’t for Hamdanovic’s acrobatic save. Inter wasn’t that impressive during last night’s game.
      Overall, it is a good experience for them. Playing in the CL is very important for young promising players. Hopefully, they can build on it and return next year with a better squad.

    1. I watched tottenham and Barcelona and I dont think PSV c will be able to upset Tottenham either. Home fixtures could go down to the wire but away it will be hard.

      Koeman was also in the stands for Inter vs PSV and I dont think he would have penciled any one in. Zoet both blunders on goal. Bergwijn good runs, holding up but was wasteful.hendrix, passing as usual and good balls from the middle but defensively was average.

      Rosario, apart from the goal was overall average again as the momentum shifted to inter.could have won but were unlucky as mentioned by ruud.

      Again I will say this Malen will surpass Bergwijn once MVB starts with more rotation. Malens introduction did shift the momentum to some extent. Forced handanovic into a solid save.

      1. I wouldn’t say he is a one season wonder yet but he is definitely in a slump at the moment. After last season, opposing defenses have adjusted to deal with him. The return of Sturridge and the arrival of Shaquiri has made him replaceable which may have affected him mentally.
        Whatever the reason is at the moment, I think he will regain his form at some point. Not another 40+ goals but a decent amount to show he is still a dangerous player to be dealt with.

  7. – Back line: de Ligt, Fosu,Piere,Schuur, Drongelen, Juste
    – Wings: Kluivert, Dilrosun, Danuja, Berwijn, Chong, Steng
    – Striker: Boadu,Redan, Malen
    – Midfielder: de Jong

    Seems upcoming generation better but still lack of good central player, other position are our bright future

  8. As I suspected there is big competition going on at Lyon now that Dembele is taking the centre stage upfront in the strikers position. Besides rotation, Aouar seems to have edge over Depay as he brings more creativity from that left flank.

    Found this video and you can tell Depay looks shredded and trying to step up to another level.


  9. first call-up for Steven Bergwijn, Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld, Denzel Dumfries and Pablo Rosario.

    Dumfries looks set to be taking adavantage of frozen Karsdorp, Diks and Tete, while janmaat is injured.

    1. I think the loan move was not a bad idea after all. He is quiet skill full as well. Dont wanna compare him to Ruud van Nistelroy just yet. I think his next move should be to break into PSV starting 11.worth a look after another season or so.l dont know want happened to Maxi Romero,who PSV brought from Argentina. Injured?looks like PSV will be untouncble this season and if they qualify for CL at the end of this season, Lammers and romero should take the centre stage next seadon.

      1. Taking on strikers.Jizz Hornkamp also looks like a talented striker at heerenveen. Although he is backup to lammers at the moment but has been a supersub most of the time he has come on.another low profile to watch out for like Groeneveld.he has played 3 games for heerenveen off the bench and scored in every game.

      1. I think he is another klaassen. Clincal inside the box, knows how to position himself at right place and at right time but in high tempo game is often a pedestrian.

        1. I agree with Wilson. Vlap is Klaassen lite. And yes, Klaassen is a good goal scorer, for a midfielder. Vlap is too, good legs, good runner, but nothing special.

    1. PSG 3-0 lyon. Again Depay doesnt fit in that strikers role. He good with ball but he doesnt know how to position himself in those pocket spaces. No chances this time for lyon.the flood gates just opened up.

  10. Im still not sure, why Babel and not jeremine lens. Lens for is better than promes and I think Promes got the benefit of doubt all this time because he scoring alot of goals in russia.sevilla is another story. Lens brings more physicality upfront and he likes to take on defenders and this is where he uses his speed and strength to his advantage.he was last called up for the belugum friendly but got injured in the game. He is still 30 and could make it to euros atleast. I hope koeman will give him the chance to prove himself again. Depay, Groeneveld, Kluivert all have strong hold on the left while on the right lens could well provide a good competition to the likes of promes and others.

  11. Good news.Clavin stengs made his first appereance for AZ after the horrific injury,vs Cambuur in a friendly match as the international break starts for the nation league. Hopefully he wont be rushed into the starting lineup anytime soon and the physios will take absloute precaution and see that the transition is as smooth as possible.

Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.