Wang Yulin takes a look at PSV’s exciting Dutch attacker Steven Bergwijn
When you think of the team ‘PSV Eindhoven’, which players come to your mind? It is probably Bayern winger and academy graduate Arjen Robben or maybe, marauding holding midfielder Mark van Bommel or legendary midfielder Ruud Gullit and the list goes on and on. The club from the South of the Netherlands is never short of talents that will be propelled to the big stages of European Football sooner or later and one of them, currently rising through the ranks at De Herdgang, is none other than Steven Bergwijn.
Who is Steven Bergwijn?
Steven Charles Bergwijn was born in Almere, a city which was the westernmost municipality of the province Flevoland and was a 30 min drive from Amsterdam, on the 13th of October 1997 and his football career started at the age of four, when he joined ASC Waterwijk- his hometown club, during the 2002/03 season. A year later, he was the top scorer of the league and was scouted by Ajax in a match against Zuidvogels.
During his stint at Ajax, he was voted Best player of the Winter Cup in 2004. Since then, he played a total of six seasons in the Ajax Academy and in 2011 he transferred to PSV, where he would blossom to be one the finest wingers in the academy. In 2014, he was awarded the UEFA Golden Player award in the European U17 Championship in Malta, where the Oranje were defeated by England in the final. He is currently a first team player in PSV but is seeking to cement his place in Phillip Cocu’s side.
What is his Style of Play?
Bergwijn can play across the front line, be it a false nine or a shadow striker in the centre or an inside forward on either flank, but he mainly acts as the latter on the right, cutting in and creating space for himself, as well as popping off some shots. Phillip Cocu may well have instructed him to do so, to pull full backs out of position, as well as to have a numerical advantage in the centre space of the field. The fact that he can play on both flanks of the pitch is an added bonus as he can easily switch flanks with the opposite winger, confusing the fullbacks of teams that man mark.
During the attacking phase of PSV, he is usually observed drifting inwards, creating space for himself. His agility and acceleration, coupled with decent technical ability, allows him to dribble past a few defenders before popping a shot off, or laying it off for his teammates. He also likes to play short passes and one-twos with a teammate to easily slice through the defensive line to slot it home.
What are his Strengths?
Firstly, he is excellent at ball retention. Despite ball retention being a strength mainly for midfielders, Bergwijn has exhibited this and is one of the best at ball retention at his age. Due to the nature of his role, he is often found further up the field when PSV win possession and initiate a counterattack. However, he is able to adapt to the situation which most players his age would be unable to do so. He would be able to shield the ball and wait for other players to arrive, before using his technical ability to dribble past a few defenders and laying it off for his teammates. This is evident by the stat that he has only been dispossessed 5 times so far this season in the Eredivisie, which is the 5th best in the league for right wingers. His ability to retain the ball can also be seen when he is instructed to fall back. He would receive the ball from teammates and move the ball across the field effortlessly, pulling opponents out of position, while resisting pressure at the same time.
Secondly, he is an excellent dribbler. Bergwijn is blessed with a good technical ability, meaning he can cut in with ease, beating numerous defenders. In the Eredivisie, he has had 3 successful dribbles per game so far, which is the fourth highest in the league and best in his team. His good dribbling allows him to create chances for himself, as well as his teammates. This, coupled with his excellent ball retention, will allow him to zip past defenders with consummate ease, making him an extremely effective player in the final third.
Lastly, another one of Bergwijn’s strengths is his off-the-ball skills. His positioning is immaculate. During the defensive phase, Bergwijn hugs the touchline and the centre line making, themselves available to counter the moment PSV gain possession in a dangerous areas of the pitch. During the attacking phase, he is especially aware of his surroundings. Despite being an inside forward and tasked to cut in, he can be seen moving across the final third to look for potential overloads to exploit. He would often also be aware of the attacking fullbacks and give them space in the flanks to allow them to cross. As a result, his positioning makes him very suitable and allows him to adapt to Cocu’s style of play, which differs from a high tempo to a much slower based on the opponent.
What are his Weaknesses?
One glaring weakness of his otherwise well-rounded skill set would be his aerial presence. He is yet to win an aerial duel in the Eredivisie and it is not exactly difficult to see why. He is the fifth shortest player in the team, coming in at 178 cm. Although he cannot change his height, he can definitely improve his jumping reach and look to strengthen his neck muscles. Saying that, his role does not need him to have an aerial presence but it would certainly be handy during set pieces as well as hold up play.
Another possible weakness would be his defensive contribution. He has only attempted 1.8 tackles per game in the Eredivisie so far, placing him at 17th place, out of a total of 26 right wingers. His unwillingness to put in a challenge can put other teammates under pressure, as they are then expected to close the opponents down instead, possibly affecting the team shape and ultimately allowing the opponents to pick PSV apart due to their poor defensive structure. Having said that, his defensive contribution is not of high importance as he usually hugs the byline and stays in the final third, waiting for a counterattack and Phillip Cocu may well have worked around Bergwijn’s defensive contribution. On top of that, his defensive contribution can only get better with more game time and his defensive contribution will definitely improve drastically by the time he is in his mid twenties.
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