A cruel injury on the first week of last season ruled Calvin Stengs out for a year but the hugely talented winger is close to returning and will be a major player for AZ this season

  • By Michael Bell
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AZ Alkmaar’s academy is thriving and Stengs is one of the many gifted youngsters to come through at the AFAS Stadion in recent years.

At the start of the 2016/17 season, the winger was part of AZ’s U19 side but then became a crucial player in Jong AZ’s second division title-winning campaign, scoring six goals and adding eight assists. His form didn’t go unnoticed by AZ boss John van den Brom who handed him his debut in a 1-1 draw with Excelsior in the March of that season. After his debut, Stengs returned to the reserves, but during the end of season European play-offs he was called on again and the youngster took his chance.

Stengs dazzled in the opening round win over Groningen, scoring in both legs and then provided two excellent assists in the first-leg victory over Utrecht. Utrecht would come back to knock AZ out of Europe but the hype surrounding Stengs after the ties meant he went into the next season with huge expectations.

Last year’s Pre-season was good for the winger and he started the opening game with PSV in lively fashion, tearing the Eindhoven sides defence apart early on before a freak incident with Santiago Arias after only eight minutes wrecked his season. Stengs went to tackle the right-back but jarred his foot in the turf and he suffered a cruciate ligament injury, which ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Stengs still hasn’t returned to full training and missed the whole of AZ’s pre-season and Europa League exit. The start of the league is also too soon for Stengs and AZ fans will have to be patient as they wait to catch another glimpse of their big talent.

Style of Play

He may have only played a handful of matches for AZ so far in his career, but the 19-year-old’s talent was clear to see and it is safe to say he is one of the most gifted wingers the Netherlands have produced in recent years.

A tall and strong left-footed right winger, Stengs has explosive pace and excellent technique. He can glide past his opponents at will on the right and loves to cut in and shoot at goal, just like a certain Arjen Robben.

Stengs has a slender figure but he is strong and hard to knock off the ball when he decides to drive at a defence. He also has the quick feet to beat his opponents in tight spaces.

What to expect from Stengs this season

Stengs will probably miss the opening months of the Eredivisie campaign but when he returns he should slot straight back into the starting line-up.

With Alireza Jahanbakhsh gone, AZ are sorely missing some spark on the right-hand side and Stengs can definitely provide that.

Going into last season, Stengs was expected to be one of the breakout stars. Hopefully, he can regain his form quickly and prove he is still one of Netherlands brightest talents.

Michael Bell (59 Posts)