Pienaar on the way up

LONDON - Slowly but surely, South African midfielder Steven Pienaar is recapturing the form that made him one of the most sought-after players in Europe in his early twenties.

LONDON - Slowly but surely, South African midfielder Steven Pienaar is recapturing the form that made him one of the most sought-after players in Europe in his early twenties.

The 25-year-old shone brightly in the Ajax side that won the domestic title in 2004, and reached the second round of the Uefa Champions League in 2005-06. But he failed to show his true talent during a mixed 2006-07 season with German club Borussia Dortmund.

David Moyes, the manager of English Premier League club Everton, had kept a close eye on Pienaar since his Ajax days, and, when the chance came to sign him on a season-long loan deal, Moyes did not hesitate.

His judgement appears to have been sound. Pienaar is now a regular starter for the Liverpool club, and impressed in patches during his team's creditable 1-1 draw at 2005 and 2006 Premier League champions Chelsea on Sunday.

Moyes uses Pienaar on the left side of a four-man or a five-man midfield, and the Johannesburg-born player interprets the role very well. He is skilful with the ball and perceptive in his movement when Everton are attacking, and shows diligence and commitment when his team is not in possession.

Moyes said: "Steven has done well for us in flashes. He gives us a bit of composure on the ball, and he has impressed in parts. Even if he is not yet at the level he was when he was at Ajax, he is doing okay for us." - Sapa-AFP

X