PIETER GERKENS (SINT-TRUIDEN, Belgium)
Position: Attacking Midfielder/Defensive Midfielder
2016/17 stats: 39 games (2682 minutes) – 14 goals – 5 assists – 0 yellow cards – 0 red cards
Pieter Gerkens is a young Belgian midfielder that a few years back made his senior debut for Racing Genk, but his undisputable talent really flourished in the 2016/17 season when he became a key midfielder for Sint-Truiden.
Gerkens is a player that shows ability to use both of his feet well when passing or shooting, but on all his other great talents one of his best qualities is his natural instinct for positioning his body on the pitch. He played 39 games in all competitions for Sint-Truiden in his last season and was never booked, while winning many tackles and 50/50 balls.
However, the main reason for his inclusion in this Risers list was his vast improvement when it comes to converting and creating chances. For a player that started his career as a defensive midfielder nobody expected Gerkens to become so effective in attack, but he was trusted by his manager this last season to play in a much more advanced role and this proved the right thing for him.
Gerkens scored the impressive six goals during the thirty regular season rounds in Belgium, that for a team from the bottom half of the table that generally struggle for goals. His true leader’s abilities came through clearly in the play-offs that followed with Pieter Gerkens netting eight goals in eleven play-off fixtures, while also providing four assists. In these games that took place between March and May 2017 Gerkens showed great ability to join the attacks from deep positions and his delayed runs made him very effective. He also showed great accuracy with his mid-range shots, with over 60% of his attempts from middle distance being on target.
This was his first full season with Sint-Truiden, he joined them in January 2016, and he made massive improvement comparing to his first year. He also had a decent breakthrough campaign at Genk before that and in my opinion the future of this young man is very bright, with an offer from a much bigger club only a matter of time.
With his abilities to keep the ball, protect the defence when needed, create chances for others and score goals himself Pieter Gerkens should be on the radar of many clubs and scouts, with his market price likely to spiral up quickly if he keeps performing like that.
Last but not least his fitness seems to be very good and he didn’t miss a single minute of the 2016/17 season due to an injury.