The future seems bright for Dutch football after suffering a recent barren spell which saw them miss two consecutive international tournaments.
Appointing former Everton boss and Euro ’88 hero Ronald Koeman has proven to be a masterstroke, though it was better late than never, as the man formerly known as ‘Floquet de Neu’ should have been Louis van Gaal’s successor.
To say he’s been making up for lost time is an understatement. Despite falling to Portugal in the inaugural Uefa Nations League final — a showpiece event not many backed Oranje to reach — there’s much to be excited about this Netherlands team.
Koeman has injected joie de vivre into their game: nothing has illustrated this more than playing with attacking wingers, among the most promising is PSV Eindhoven forward Steven Bergwijn who, last season, enjoyed a breakthrough campaign.
Naturally, putting together a string of standout performances have attracted plenty of clubs, and there’s a good chance he could be saying goodbye this summer. Below are six contenders to become his next club; two dream options, two realistic choices, and two wildcard selections.
Dream: Bayern Munich or Manchester United
It was fitting that Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry both left Munich in tandem, with their legend sealed for eternity, last season. ‘Robbery’, as this wing partnership came to be known as, defined one of Bayern’s most successful eras. Understandably it’s left a chasm in Niko Kovac’s squad which they’ve reportedly tried to fill with Leroy Sané, but another name on their wishlist is Bergwijn, who could become the latest Dutchman to cross the border. Given the German champions eagerness to play with electric wingers (see: Serge Gnabry) it seems a perfect match.
The reigning and undisputed Bundesliga champions aren’t the only ‘super club’ in rebuilding mode this summer; Manchester United, who may not be rubbing shoulders with them anytime soon, are once again looking to close the gap to local rivals and English football’s new dominant force Manchester City. You can’t have too many quality wide options; Alexis Sanchez has regressed whilst Anthony Martial often blows hot and cold. Bergwijn, though, may look to national teammate Memphis Depay and opt for a stable outfit in the next phase of his career.
Squawka suggests: Bayern Munich
Realistic: Remain at PSV Eindhoven or Sevilla
Bergwijn is currently part of a strong lineage of PSV wingers with Dries Mertens and the aforementioned Memphis his two most recent predecessors. Both are now excelling at their current teams: Mertens transforming into a prolific ‘false nine’ at Napoli whilst Lyon forward Depay continues to be a match-winner playing through the middle as well. Since breaking through Bergwijn has shown promise, with last season being his most outstanding to date – 14 goals and 12 assists in 33 league matches – with age on his side (he turns 22 in October) he could be convinced of playing one more season in Eindhoven before making that leap forward.
The temptation is always there to prove yourself in a more challenging top division. AS Roma, who signed compatriot Justin Kluivert last summer, have been keeping tabs but nothing is concrete. The same cannot be said for Sevilla who, according to Eindhovens Dagblad, offered between €30-32m for his signature. Under new boss Julen Lopetegui they’re looking to climb up the La Liga table having finished sixth (and behind Getafe) last season. Aside from offering Bergwijn a chance to come up against childhood idol Lionel Messi, there’s no lure of Champions League football which he could still enjoy at home.
Squawka suggests: PSV Eindhoven
Wildcard: Ajax or Tottenham Hotspur
A falling out with a youth team coach saw young Bergwijn ultimately swap boyhood team Ajax for PSV and he’s not looked back since. Curiously, a return could be on the cards. There are plenty of examples, Quincy Promes – who never made it to the Amsterdammers’ first-team – returned home this summer. However, it’s unlikely PSV would be happy to strengthen a rival: only a mega offer could remotely tempt them. Also, for the time being, there’s no room for the dynamic forward. That could, however, change if one of Hakim Ziyech or David Neres leaves and there’s a strong likelihood it could be the former who opens up a vacancy sporting director Marc Overmars may feel needs filling.
What makes Bergwijn so good is how he’s able to mesh the classic and contemporary. He’s a real mercurial winger. His ambidexterity, guile and electric pace have made him a defender’s nightmare. These attributes should hold him in good stead in Europe’s most demanding competition – the Premier League. His name has been associated with Liverpool, though it’s unlikely the European champions will bring him to Anfield. The side they defeated in Madrid, however, are a different story. An issue many noted last term, the consequence of their transfer inactivity was Spurs’ lack of attacking depth, especially on the flanks. Bergwijn, who can play across the forward line, is very much an option, plus Mauricio Pochettino has a way of improving talent.
Squawka suggests: Tottenham Hotspur