Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Mark Van Bommel, Phillip Cocu and Arjen Robben are all brilliant Dutch players that used PSV as a stepping stone to greatness but it is noticeable none of them actually came from the PSV academy. When Technical director Marcel Brands joined and appointed Art Langeler as Head of Youth development, it was clear that he looked to alter that. Memphis Depay who joined Manchester United in the summer was testament to their increased focus on youth but Jorrit Hendrix has fast become a crowd favourite at the base of PSV’s midfield.
Last season, Phillip Cocu had a crisis in midfield as Oscar Hiljemark and Stijn Schaars were out with long-term injuries and Andres Guardado was still settling at PSV. So the coach decided to move centre-back Hendrix into midfield and he took to it like a fish to water. Hendrix had already exercised his brilliant distribution when playing out the back as a centre-back but now showed energy and grit to marshal the PSV midfield in their brilliant start to the season. Then Dutch National Team coach Guus Hiddink was rumoured to be interested in giving him a well-deserved call-up.
That was all before two yellows in a home match against Ado Den Haag and the brilliance of Guardado limited Hendrix to games for Jong PSV and ultimately forced him to watch from the bench as the Mexican made the defensive-midfield position his own. However, this season he has began to make his own case for a starting spot as he has received plaudits for brilliant performances.
Cocu has began to trust him more as against Manchester United, he tasked him with marking Juan Mata and against Ajax, he was tasked with marking Davy Klaassen. In the later instance, he won the ball and drove deep into the final third to thread a through ball for Gaston Pereiro for the winning goal.
Hendrix, is a player who thrives on the ball and has improved his ability to string neat passes together from deep while being able to ping accurate long-balls forward. He acts as a security blanket in the PSV midfield, adept at dropping into defensive roles to win possession, covering for defenders who drive forward and dropping in between his centre-backs to pick up possession and ease the ball forward linking defence and attack. His biggest trait is his decision making and his knowledge of when to dive into tackles and when to stay on his feet and his ability to pressure attackers into making mistakes.
Sometimes, Cocu has used him and Guardado in a double-pivot which has allowed the latter to gain a greater grasp on games. With, Hendrix’ security, Guardado is allowed to act as the heartbeat of PSV further forward and cover much more space while PSV can be more secure when they are out of possession.
It is a massive shock to most people around PSV that the 20 year-old hasn’t been given a call up to the Dutch National Team as they are in dire need of new blood in defensive midfield. Vurnon Anita who has done little to warrant a first team place at Newcastle United, let alone, the Dutch National Team has been picked while Riechedly Bazoer and now Marko Vejinovic have both been given their first call ups. Coach Phillip Cocu and TV analyst Aad De Mos have both said that he is capable of a Dutch National Team call up in the future.
“His development is good and he is very valuable for us, especially as regards the balance of the team. But he can also play forward. He puts in a lot of energy in a race and has the right attitude. If he plays like in the last games we are very satisfied,” said Cocu to NIS. “He must first perform well over a long period, then he might be an option for the Dutch team. He has the qualities. Such a type of defensive midfielder seems to be very welcome in the Netherlands,” the PSV coach continued.
The youngster recently made his 50th appearance, coming off the bench for a 3-1 win against Utrecht at home. He was serenaded by cheers while warming up and as Adam Maher was jeered on his way off the pitch, Hendrix was given a round of applause which has brought about a special relationship between a fan and their player. Telling performances have resulted in standing ovations as the youngster continues to thrive off the challenges that first team football brings.
Hendrix holds a lot of similarities with another fan favourite, his coach Phillip Cocu as they are both left-footed and have the mental fortitude and physical sharpness to play many positions. Hendrix has played at left-back, centre-back and defensive midfield while when Santiago Arias got sent off earlier in the season against CSKA Moscow away in the Champions League, he even looked comfortable at right back.
The statistics are also testament to his ability and potential as he is in the top ten best passers in the Eredivisie with an 88% pass succession rate to which 74% are forward passes according to Squawka. Opta statistics showed that against De Graafschap two weeks ago, he completed 97% of 58 passes while also making an assist.On average, Hendrix makes 2 tackles, 1 interception and one clearance per game while playing three successful long balls out of 35 passes per game.
Hendrix will have to convince Cocu that he has what it takes to retain a regular starting role and prove to Blind that he has something to add to the struggling Dutch National Team. However, he must continue with the Dutch U21’s as a leading character and continue to bless PSV fans with his talent. PSV have a penchant for scouting talent but it is refreshing to see players from within being given chances, especially ones who possess as much talent as Hendrix does. It is a hope he can reach the great heights as the aforementioned players as he certainly has the potential to do so but he must maintain patience and humility to fulfil it.