A factual preview of PSV’s squad going into a very arduous season in which they will be participating in the UEFA Champions League and attempting to retain the Eredivisie title.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
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Last season, PSV won the Eredivisie in a landslide, mostly due to them having the most complete and talented squad since they last won the Eredivisie. They mastered the art of grinding out wins by implementing a system in which their most influential players thrived. However, with Memphis Depay joining Manchester United and Georginio Wijnaldum joining Newcastle, it will be a challenge for PSV to sustain and improve on their success.

The first challenge will be replacing Memphis Depay as Director Marcel Brands and manager Phillip Cocu have brought in Belgian Maxime Lestienne and Uruguayan youth sensation Gaston Pereiro to replace him. Another young left winger, Mohamed Rayhi has been allowed to leave the club for former assistant coach Ernst Faber’s newly promoted NEC Nemigen side. This exit has cleared the path for Steven Bergwijn to be promoted once he is ready.

Luuk De Jong who enjoyed a goal-laden first season at the club, will have a higher emphasis upon him to be more clinical. The Dutchman scored 19 goals last season (only bested by Depay’s 22 goals) and his unselfish movement allowed Depay to score more goals and express himself more. Sometimes last season, De Jong seemed bereft of confidence when things weren’t going his way and could be accused of spurning easy chances. Cocu will need to manage his confidence as he did when De Jong first joined as he was placed in charge of penalties to regain his goal-scoring touch and elevate his confidence.

On the right, Luciano Narsingh will probably hold his place as the pace and width he brought to the right-flank were influential in PSV’s attacking threat. His ability to beat his man and provide pin-point crosses are making him a mainstay in the Dutch National side as he has shown great character after suffering a long-term injury, in his first season at PSV. Behind De Jong and Narsingh, are Rai Vloet and Jurgen Locadia who were both on the fringes last season. Vloet, proved himself as a goal-poaching forward in the Toulon Youth Tournament as he was one brightest player in an otherwise, very calamitous tournament for the Dutch Youth Team. Locadia deputised well when Depay was injured, early last season but failed to nail down a place in the first team. Locadia is a stocky, quick forward who has an eye for goal but has found game-time hard to come by due to the barnstorming performances of Depay and De Jong last season. However, inspired pre-season performances could yet kickstart his PSV career.

In midfield, the loss of captain Georginio Wijnaldum is disappointing but not defining as Brands acted swiftly in securing the services of Vitesse Arnheim’s Davy Propper. Propper has been given the number six shirt while Adam Maher will inherit Wijnaldum’s number 10 which will signify a more integral role for PSV. Maher improved last season but had an indifferent start after joining from AZ Alkmaar as he was more attuned to his defensive responsibilites. Maher is a midfielder who can change a game with a drop of a shoulder as he posseses close control that allows him to have his way with defenders while also having an ability to score goals. One just needs to look at his second of two goals at the Phillips Stadion against his former employers AZ Alkmaar to see his remarkable ability. He picked up the ball on the right flank only to weave past four players into the centre and shoot through Wesley Hoedt’s legs and past the keeper. One can only hope Maher can play a more central role with creative freedom to toy with Eredivisie defences.

The biggest debate in midfield will be who will hold the sitting role and the competition between Guardado and Jorrit Hendrix will continue. Guardado held the role for most of last season and earned himself a permanent contract with the red and whites. Guardado is gifted at building up play from the back by either playing short passes or more direct long balls while his understanding of the game and experience helps him go about his defensive duties with valour. Hendrix began last season in the sitting role and lost it after his two yellows at home to ADO Den Haag but impressed fans with his boundless energy. For someone so young, Hendrix has an impeccable calm on the ball under pressure as time and time again he dribbled out of situations where other midfielders his age may have found themselves in trouble. His physique and understanding of the game helped him martial his position but could find himself too willing to play the long ball and lose possession instead of playing patient short passes from the back. However, Hendrix could find himself back at centre-back next season as Cocu may look to him to replace Karim Rekik who chose to join Marseille instead of PSV from Manchester City.

The fringes will be occupied by Marcel Ritzmaier, Clint Leemans and Stijn Schaars who is returning from a long-term injury. Ritzmaier who failed to get into the team last season after an impressive loan spell at Cambuur the season before. The young Austrian is blessed with technical ability as an attacking midfielder but may struggle to find a place in Cocu’s team again this season. Leemans who like Hendrix, is a centre-back turned defensive-midfielder was impressive at the Toulon Tournament. He is a brilliant passer of the ball and is calm under pressure but can be too laxed in possession as he lost possession in deep-midfield position too often with the Dutch youth team. He proved to be a set-piece specialist too as his direct and well-driven set-pieces proved to be the catalyst for a few Dutch goals at the Tournament. However, he is still far away from a starting spot but has spent pre-season developing under the advision of the more experienced Schaars. Schaars experience will continue to be valuable for the Eredivisie side as they are set to compete in the Champions League and attempt to retain the Eredivisie.

PSV suffered a blow in pre-season as explosive left-back Jetro Willems was ruled out for eight weeks with an injury in a friendly against Monaco. The spot will be taken by new signing from AZ Alkmaar Simon Poulsen who will bring his vast experience to the role this season. PSV will be hoping for the swift return of Willems though as his pace and crossing ability are a deadly arrow in the bow of PSV’s attack, although it is imperative that he improves the defensive side of his game as he could become the leading left-back in world football. At centre-back Nicholas Ismait-Mirin could be competing with Jorrit Hendrix to partner Jeffrey Bruma after PSV failed to secure Rekik on a permanent deal. Ismait-Mirin is quick and is not aftraid to dive into challenges as well as being good in the air but will need a higher level of focus to become a mainstay in the side. The bulky youngster Jordy De Wijs is a possibility but his aerial ability and brute strength is greatly undermined by his inclination to dive into tackles and commit silly fouls.

At right-back PSV are covered well by Colombian Santiago Arias and Dutch youngster Joshua Brenet. Arias is PSV’s first choice right-back as he is assured in defensive positions while providing a threat when attacking due to his calm on the ball and ability on the overlap. Brenet, at first seemed clumsy but grew as he was given more game-time towards the end of last season due to an injury to Arias. His attempts at crossing could be humorous at times but he came to terms with his limitations as he went on the overlap less and began to sit back and string together short passes in build-up play. He began to improve more as he exhibited his strong and stocky physique to shackle attackers but will need to be more concentrated when PSV are without the ball. He scored a well-taken, long-range half-volley against PEC Zwolle in the later stages of the season to truly stake a claim for a starting spot.

Jeroen Zoet will likely be the starting goalkeeper next season with Remko Pasveer being the reserve goalkeeper. It will be interesting to see if Phillip Cocu will persist with his 4-3-3 formation as his squad has a new balance and a new dynamic. It will be a test for him and his new assistant Ruud Brood as Cocu will need to more of a tactical edge in order to retain the Eredivisie. The young manager is well on his way to becoming a first-class manager and this season could set his reputation in Holland.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)