Steven Bergwijn sounds frustrated. You can’t really blame him. Signed in January 2020 under Jose Mourinho, he scored an incredible goal against Manchester City on his debut and has shown flashes of the prolific scoring ability he showed in the Netherlands under PSV. But those flashes hasn’t translated to consistent minutes at Tottenham Hotspur.
In a recent Dutch language interview in Algemeen Dagblad, Bergwijn has let some of that frustration through, saying that he’s open to leaving Tottenham in the summer in order to play more consistent first team minutes. (English translation in part courtesy of The Athletic)
“A place in the starting line-up? Here? I honestly don’t think so. The attack works well, but I don’t get to play much. There are still four games to go. After that, we will see in the summer what is best for everyone.”
Bergwijn needs consistent minutes for a variety of reasons, but none more than that it’s the best way for him to ensure a spot in the Netherlands’ World Cup squad this coming winter. Stevie has definitely taken his opportunities when present them with the Dutch, notably scoring three goals in friendly matches vs. Denmark and Germany in March. Ajax showed an inordinate amount of interest in signing Bergwijn this past January, but Spurs were reluctant to sell him at that time. In his comments, Steve said he’d be very open to a return to the Netherlands.
“A return to the Netherlands would certainly be an option for me. The World Cup is coming. Mr Van Gaal, the national coach, brought me into the selection last time, even though I didn’t play much. Then you come back to the club and you barely play. It is a shame, of course. In the summer we really have to look for a solution”.
At Spurs, Antonio Conte has seemed reluctant to play him. Conte has referenced that he sees Bergwijn as Harry Kane’s backup at striker, which clearly does him no favors considering Kane’s health this season; wild horses couldn’t drag Kane off the pitch, and Conte has frequently chosen to either bring him on to kill off the final minutes in matches, or more frequently, not bring him on at all.
Perhaps to his credit, Conte seems to recognize that he’s not using Bergwijn as much as he should. In his post-match press conference after Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Leicester this weekend, Conte was asked about Bergwijn, likely due to Stevie’s comments to the Dutch press, and the Italian admitted that Bergwijn isn’t being fully utilized.
“For me, it’s a bit difficult to keep him on the bench because Steven is maybe the player he should deserve more, but we have to try always a good balance. He is a striker, a fantastic striker, but in this position, there is Harry and then Sonny. Deki gives us quality and quantity, and sometimes it’s very difficult. For sure maybe I’m giving [Steven] less than he deserves, and I want to be honest. Lucas played a good 50 minutes, and we have to continue in this way and prepare for an important game.”
However, it does seem as though if Spurs need to raise funds for summer spending that Bergwijn could find an exit from North London. Conte has been open about wanting a new backup for Kane this summer, and with his wide attacking options seemingly set in Son Heung-Min and Dejan Kulusevski, that doesn’t leave much of a place for Stevie. It’s sad — he’s clearly a talented player with the ability to score exciting goals (see: the match at Leicester earlier in the season) but this is the first time Bergwijn has been open about the possibility of leaving.
The good news is that there’s almost certainly a market for him. Ajax might or might not renew their interest now that Erik Ten Hag has moved to Manchester United, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if other teams swoop in now that a transfer seems like a feasible option. I’d be open to it as well — although I’d like to see Steve get more of a run in the team, Bergwijn’s made his preference to leave plain now. I’d say now it’s probably more likely that he departs this summer than that he stays put, and it might end up being the best thing for everyone.