Luuk Brouwers 2021/22: The 23-year old midfielder at the heart of Go Ahead Eagles survival push – scout report
When you think of the Dutch midfielders currently mainstays in the national team, names like Gini Wijnaldum at PSG, Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona and Teun Koopmeiners at Atalanta come to mind. One name that has not yet entered the fray but may do soon is Luuk Brouwers at Go Ahead Eagles. Born in the city of Helmond, Brouwers came through the youth system at Den Bosch, before making his senior appearance for the club in 2015. Now at Go Ahead Eagles, Brouwers has been an instrumental part of their return to the Eredivisie.
When taking a look at Luuk Brouwers heat map from this season, one can assume that Brouwers is very much a deep-lying midfielder tasked with breaking play up. While this is part of Brouwers game, under Kees van Wonderen Brouwers has been the most pivotal part of the double pivot in his 4-2-3-1 formation this season. This double pivot role allows Brouwers the freedom to get forward, with his 6 goals this season showing his capabilities when venturing into the attacking third. This consistent attacking does not however affect his contribution in the defensive third of the pitch, as this analysis will show.
Range of passing and accuracy
One of the attributes of his game that Brouwers excels at is his range of passing that he can demonstrate, as well as the accuracy to go along with it. In this seasons Eredivisie so far, Brouwers is averaging 44.58 passes per 90 with 88.1% being accurate. What makes this number stand out even more is the fact that these are forward passes rather than backwards or side-to-side. Brouwers is averaging 4.21 passes to the final third per 90 with 84.4% of them being accurate, as well as 13.63 forward passes per 90, this time with an 83.6% success rate. What this demonstrates is Brouwers loves to pass the ball forward, and excels at it as well.
In the phase of play above against Vitesse, Brouwers has ventured into the final third after receiving a one-two pass from his teammate. The forward is able to spot the defender ball watching (circled in red) and decides to make a run in behind the opposition defence. Though he takes a heavy first touch, Brouwers is able to spot this run, get to the ball first before the defender, and play a toe poke pass in behind for his teammate to latch onto. This results in a goal for Go Ahead Eagles, and an assist for Brouwers.
Above shows another example of the range and accuracy of Brouwers passing ability, this time from a deeper midfield position. Brouwers receives possession and is instantly closed down by the opposition player, with another player coming in from behind. However, Brouwers is able to keep his cool and play a perfectly weighted through pass to his teammate making a run in behind the opposition defence. The ball reaches the forward, but unfortunately, the defender is able to catch up and poke the ball away. Still, to make this sort of pass under the pressure he was under illustrates once again the passing ability of Brouwers.
Another area that Brouwers is able to contribute with his passing is from wide areas as well. In the phase of play above against Sparta Rotterdam, Brouwers finds himself just inside the 18-yard box on the far side. He is able to play a beautiful outside the right boot cross into the path of his forward making a run towards the penalty spot. Unfortunately, the forwards miss times his header, resulting in the ball trickling wide.
As this part of the analysis has shown, the passing ability of Luuk Brouwers is not something that only occurs in deeper areas of the pitch, but from all different areas. He is also not strictly a backward or side-to-side passer, which was illustrated in this section as well.
Chipping in offensively
When playing as part of a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation, one of the two deeper lying midfielder likes to get forward, while the other sits back to shield the back four. While this role can interchange between the two players, in Go Ahead Eagle’s system, Brouwers is solely the one who gets forward and contributes offensively as well as defensively. With 6 goals to his name in the Eredivisie this season, he is just as much a threat with the ball at his feet as he is trying to win the ball back.
This goal scored by Brouwers in the match above against AZ shows what he is capable of if given the space to fire off a shot. From a Go Ahead Eagles attack, the ball is able to find its way to Brouwers on the edge of the 18-yard box. Though there are three AZ defenders around him trying to put him off, Brouwers is able to hit the ball sweetly on the half volley. The resulting shot is able to find its way into the bottom left corner, stunning the AZ defenders and goalkeeper, and give Go Ahead Eagles the lead.
Another side of the offensive game that Brouwers is able to contribute in is from set pieces. One great example of his involvement during attacking set pieces is the phase of play above against PSV Eindhoven. The ball is played into the 18-yard box from a set piece. Brouwers is able to sneak his way behind the opposition defensive line and get a quick shot off as the ball falls to him with the goalkeeper rooted to his line. Unfortunately, Brouwers shot is hit right at the goalkeeper instead of either side, resulting in the ball being saved and sent out for a corner. This situation probably would have been best executed if Brouwers tried to head the ball, but he chose not to. Still, it is able to show the threat that Brouwers is able to pose from set plays.
The phase of play above against NEC shows another example of Brouwers ability to strike the ball well on the half volley. Similar to the first example against AZ, Brouwers is able to find himself just on the edge of the 18-yard box unmarked. He once again is able to hit the ball sweetly first time on the half volley, but this time the goalkeeper is able to make the save. This is the type of position that Brouwers likes to find himself in while Go Ahead Eagles are attacking, sniffing around the edge of the box waiting for the ball to drop to him.
Under van Wonderen’s tactics at the club, Brouwers is able to put himself into good attacking positions, allowing him to contribute in a positive way when Go Ahead Eagles are moving forward. His cool ability at striking the ball as well makes him a threat from distance, something that should help his side in a positive way the rest of this season as they look to survive in the Eredivisie.
Putting in a shift defensively
Being in a dual #6/8 role, Brouwers is also a good shield of the back four and able to put in a shift defensively when Go Ahead Eagles are not in possession. The mixture of this attacking and defensive work rate very much makes Brouwers a prototypical box-to-box midfield player; a role that he seems to thrive in and continues to improve at.
Brouwers plays a role defensively in any part of the pitch. Go Ahead Eagles are not a side that like to drop back with everyone behind the ball and invite pressure after losing possession. They like to counter-press to try and win the ball back. In the phase of play above, the AZ player is in possession. Brouwers teammate is not able to close him down, so he does it. Brouwers is able to close down the opposition player in possession and tackle him, winning the ball in the process.
With that being said, there is still some improvement possible for Brouwers from a defensive standpoint. A phase of play above from the match against NEC shows a prime example of this. Brouwers is closing down the opposition player in possession but leaves himself too open, allowing the attacker to turn and drive into the space left by Brouwers in behind. This, along with some issues with consistent fouling, are two defensive sides of his game that need to be improved, but all in all, Brouwers is a very good all-around midfielder player.
Luuk Brouwers has shown so far this season that he may be worthy of a Dutch call up at some point in the near future. His performances for Go Ahead Eagles have been impressive in trying to help them avoid the drop in the Eredivisie, while a move to a bigger club in the future also cannot be ruled out.