Have you ever just met a someone; yet, it feels like you have known them forever? Well, that’s what it feels like with Stevie, sorry, with Tottenham’s new signing Steven Bergwijn.
I suppose we did, in a sense, know Steven in a past life. The Dutchman provided the assist that earned PSV an unlikely draw at the San Siro last season; consequently sending Spurs through to the Champions League knockouts. ‘Thank us later Spurs,’ wrote the PSV Twitter admin. And Steven watched on closely, perhaps dreaming of donning the lilywhite jersey himself one day, as Spurs’ campaign culminated in Amsterdam. Steven knows such pastures well and was, in fact, once a pupil of Ajax’s hallowed De Toekomst Academy. However, a conflict with a youth trainer soured his time there and forced a young Steven and his father to undertake a grueling daily commute to continue his tutelage in Eindhoven. Steven is only human and admitted, with a wry smile, that he enjoyed watching Spurs dramatically get one over on his former club. ‘Thank us later, Steven,’ I suppose one could say.
So the seeds were sown and eventually harvested this January through opportunism rather than necessity. As fans eagerly awaited the announcement of a pugnacious target man or a ‘pow, pow, pow’ goal‐getter, few, if any, foresaw the arrival of another pacey winger. But as Richard Branson once said, ‘when someone offers you a Rolls‐Royce for the price of a Mini you have to take it,’ and that seemed to be the case as Mr. Levy tied up the deal for a modest £25 million.
A confident Bergwijn has settled in quickly to life at Hotspur Way. Football predictions can be difficult to forecast at the best of times so fans are never really sure how soon a player will acclimatise to life in a new league. He carries himself with an almost palpable swagger and doesn’t flinch when talking about his on‐field ability. He also boasts an infectious, signature celebration that was always going to impress his dextrous attacking counterparts. Dele, Son, and Aurier have all been caught mimicking the Bergwijn mask and, of course, did so in unison while smothering the diminutive Dutchman after he fired home the opener last Sunday. The evening will be remembered for the debutant’s well taken goal but his overall performance shines light on what a dynamic package Tottenham have their hands on.
Steven will likely find his home on the wing in the Spurs lineup. Blessed with frightening pace, close control, and a low center of gravity he is the stuff of nightmares for even the most established full backs. But he is much more than just a direct dribbler. Bergwijn loves to drift into central positions and is as slippery as a buttered escargot in such congested areas. He is also known to produce more one‐twos than a DJ checking his mike when cutting inside and, simply put, is very difficult to get the ball off. These virtues were demonstrated last weekend as Steven registered more touches between the lines in central positions than Dele Alli who was specifically stationed to such a remit.
Such versatility adds anarchy to Spurs’ offense and reaped dividends as a centrally positioned Bergwijn profited from a dropped off Lucas Moura’s clipped cross. With 41 goal contributions in the Eredivisie since the beginning of last season, one can only surmise that the 22‐year‐old will significantly help reduce the goal burden in Harry Kane’s absence and beyond. Yet, equally as impressive last weekend was Bergwijn’s defensive work. Steven made five ball recoveries which was more than any other attacker on the field, despite playing just 70 minutes ‐ a stat that will have Jose scribbling his name in the starting XI quicker than he can hunt down a fourth official.
Steven labelled his debut as a ‘dream come true.’ He also took to Instagram to state the awe he felt when looking up and spotting the iconic golden cockerel before kick‐off. He certainly talks like someone who has worn the badge for many years and there is no reason why he shouldn’t for many years to come. Last Sunday sparked a feeling that ‘the rebuild’ was finally starting to take shape, and while Steven is one for the future, he is also one for the present. For a long time there was a, probably justifiable, belief that a full strength Spurs attack couldn’t be strengthened without spending astronomical sums; however, Christian Eriksen’s departure officially marked the passing of the old guard and there is a now new man in the dugout. This is a Jose Mourinho team and Steven Bergwijn is undoubtedly a ‘Jose Mourinho type player.’ It is still early days for the Dutchman, but I don’t think football fans will have to wait very long before looking back and thinking that Bergwijn was a real bargain.