Tottenham boss Antonio Conte insists Steven Bergwijn is an important part of his plans after his stoppage-time heroics at Leicester.
The Dutchman’s future at Tottenham has looked in doubt amid interest from Ajax and Sevilla ahead of the January transfer window. Spurs even rejected a £15m bid from Ajax for Bergwijn.
Clubs in France and Germany were keen on Bergwijn and were considering an approach but Conte, who has preferred Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura playing behind Harry Kane for much of his tenure, unleashed Bergwijn from the bench in the extraordinary 3-2 win over Leicester.
Bergwijn scored twice in stoppage time for Tottenham to stage one of the craziest comebacks in Premier League history.
Leicester looked set for three points with the clock at 95 minutes at 2-1 up but two goals in 80 seconds from the substitute Bergwijn turned the game completely around and left the Foxes in complete shock.
Conte said his player was happy at the club and expects him to stay beyond the end of the month.
He said: “In the past when someone asks me about Steven Bergwijn, I was very clear. I said that for me he is an important player because he has characteristics that in our squad we don’t have many creative players.
“He is very good in one vs one, good to beat the man. He can play striker, he can play number 10 and for us, for me, he is an important player and we have to try to improve, to become stronger, not to lose a player and become less strong.
“Steven is a player that if he’s in good physical condition and he has good fitness, he can start the games or he can come in and change the game. For me, I think he’s an important player and you know very well the player has to be happy and I think the player is happy to stay with us and play for Tottenham.”
The late turnaround kept Tottenham on the coattails of the top four, with games in hand, as they remain unbeaten in nine Premier League games under Conte.
Conte, who again called for January reinforcements, was proud of his side’s attitude.
“I think it was an amazing game,” he added. “Honestly, we didn’t deserve to lose the game and also we didn’t deserve to draw because we created many chances and in many circumstances, we were unlucky.
“To arrive in added time losing 2-1 was honestly a great, great disappointment. At the end, my players showed great resilience, great desire. Don’t give up. This must be our philosophy, don’t give up and fight until the end.
“They showed me great desire. When we had equalised, we got the ball and we wanted to restart the game and to try to win. I think it was good for me to see this type of attitude from my players.”
Analysis: Conte proven right on Bergwijn
Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones writes:
Bergwijn could have been posing in one of those social media welcome photos for a new club rather than turning out for Spurs at the King Power. He’s been part of speculation linking him with a move to Ajax and Sevilla since the January window opened but it seems that Conte wants him around. That decision looks a masterstroke (he’s not got too many wrong, has he?) considering his impact in this quite breathtaking game.
Having come on in the 79th minute for Spurs, he looked fully motivated to drag his team back into a match they had dominated for large periods. A waved away penalty appeal caused him to react angrily to accusations of simulation from Soyuncu, drawing the Dutchman a booking. But he would have the last laugh – in a big way.
His first finish was all about instinct and being in the right place at the right time while the second was a masterclass in how to finish when all around you are losing their heads. The pass from Kane needs a mention. It was defence-splitting to the extreme and capped a wonderful display from the England captain who was in unplayable mood. Quite how he only registered one goal from his 10 attempts on goal will probably be keeping him awake this evening, if the adrenaline from this memorable finish to the game does not.
Bergwijn’s finish from Kane’s pass, considering the circumstances and that his blood would have been pumping faster than usual, made even the neutrals jump out of their seat, never mind the away end.
Football, eh? Don’t you just love it?
Source : Sky Sports