Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp continues to be linked with a shock return to the Premier League.
The non-flying Dutchman jumped to odds-on favourite for the vacant Swansea City managerial position on Tuesday night, and whilst he’s since drifted to around 14/1 for the position at the Liberty Stadium, the 43-year-old remains in contention.
Bergkamp spent 11 years with the Gunners, retiring in 2006 after the club’s final season at Highbury before opening the Emirates Stadium with a prestigious testimonial against Ajax.
The 79-cap international began his career with the Godenzonen, graduating from the Dutch giants’ famed academy to make a senior debut in 1986 under Johan Cruyff.
After winning an Eredivisie title (1989/90) and UEFA Cup (1991-92) at the Amsterdam Arena, Bergkamp got his wish to move to Italy, joining Inter Milan for a little over £7 million in 1993.
During two years at the San Siro he again lifted the UEFA Cup (1993-94), but after becoming unsettled in Serie ‘A’, Arsenal manager Bruce Rioch pounced to bring the player to the Premier League for £7.5 million.
It was the arrival of Arsene Wenger the following year that saw Bergkamp produce his best for the Gunners, with the Frenchman building his team around the unique talents of his star man.
Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg and Sylvain Wiltord all arrived in the following years to help make Arsenal a major force both domestically and in Europe, with three Premier League and four FA Cup trophies on the CV at the time of his retirement.
Whilst a scouting position was thought to be on the cards in north London, Bergkamp opted to take his coaching badges back home in Holland, and began working with the Ajax junior department that served him so well as a player nearly three decades earlier.
And, following Frank De Boer’s appointment as manager in December 2010, he stepped up to work with the U19 side in the Dutch capital – regarded as the jewel in the Ajax academy crown.
So impressive was his work, that De Boer moved Bergkamp up to the senior side as his assistant for the start of the 2011/12 campaign, with an Eredivisie title delivered on the back of an incredible run of form at the end of the season.
In four years, Bergkamp has gone from the bottom of the coaching pile to one of the most sort-after members of backroom staff in European football. Arsenal were linked with bringing him back to the capital as Wenger’s number two earlier in the year.
Steve Bould got the job however, meaning Bergkamp remains available if a club can entice the Dutchman away from Ajax.
Following the departure of Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool, Swans chairman Huw Jenkins has been scouring the net in an effort to find a replacement willing to continue the ‘total football’ ethos displayed on the pitch in the Northern Irishman’s reign as manager in Wales.
Bergkamp would certainly fit that bill, having done so for club and country throughout his career. He would seem like a perfect fit.
Suggestions have been made that the Dutchman would only leave Ajax for Arsenal, with talkSPORT’s correspondent in Holland, Marcel Van der Kraan, intimating Swansea simply doesn’t fit the bill despite their great season in the Premier League last year.
“I know Dennis gets a lot of offers. Sometimes you have to laugh about the offers…but I think he’s only got one route,” Van der Kraan told the radio station.
“At the moment doing his training and coaching with Frank De Boer at Ajax –a great partnership with two titles now – and when he’s learned enough in Holland I think he’ll go the same way he did as a player, and that’s to London Colney.”
Only time will tell.
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