NOS Football•Tuesday, 07:53
National coach Louis van Gaal is satisfied with most of the choices that the players of the Dutch national team have made in the past transfer period. But there are also concerns. After all, the perspective of some key players at their club is murky.
“The storm (of the transfer period, ed.) is over. And it has been pleasing to me,” said Van Gaal at the press conference on Monday.
The national coach first wanted to make things right. “Look, a lot of players have called me. That is indeed true. It must be related … Not only with the relationship I have with them, but also with the World Cup. But I have always ended the conversation with: this is some advice, but you have to stay close to yourself.”
For example, despite interest from the Premier League, Cody Gakpo remained loyal to PSV after a call with Van Gaal and Steven Bergwijn decided to leave Tottenham Hotspur for more playing minutes at Ajax.
Van Gaal about transfer period: “The storm is over, it has been pleasing to me”
He doesn’t have to worry about Virgil van Dijk, Jurriën Timber, Denzel Dumfries, Daley Blind, Steven Berghuis, Tyrell Malacia and the keepers either. All these players play almost everything at their club.
But then the worries. Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong, for example. Still two pillars in Van Gaal’s team. The two were allowed to start another game against Elche last Sunday – De Jong completed the game and Depay scored a goal – but both are anything but certain of a starting place.
Van Gaal: “But now they are playing regularly again. Although I would be even happier if Memphis and Frenkie play even more regularly. I can’t say that everything did not go well in the transfer period.”
Still, more positions should be of concern to Van Gaal. In the 4-1 win against Belgium, Frenkie de Jong formed the midfield together with Davy Klaassen and Steven Berghuis. Of the three, Berghuis is the only one who plays weekly.
Ryan Gravenberch, a highly acclaimed talent, went from Ajax to Bayern Munich, but in Germany he mainly sits on the bench. The midfielder must show up for this international match with the Dutch Juniors.
Van Gaal previously abandoned his belief not to select players with few playing minutes. But based on match rhythm, a choice for the other midfielders would be more logical. Teun Koopmeiners, Marten de Roon and Kenneth Taylor are playing (almost) everything this season.
Besides Van Dijk and Timber, not everyone is sure of a place in the first eleven of his club in the three central positions in the back. For example, Matthijs de Ligt made the switch from Juventus to Bayern Munich this summer, but he is not undisputed due to the fierce competition with Lucas Hernández and Dayot Upamecano.
Nathan Ake saw a transfer to Chelsea falter and therefore has to fight for his place at Manchester City. There he experiences, partly due to a groin injury, a season in which he commutes between bench and base.
And even Stefan de Vrij is not sure of his place at the moment. The defender was previously undisputed at Internazionale, but has been on the bench for the past two games.
Concerns about De Vrij for Orange: ‘He no longer plays at Inter’
Then there are also a lot of players who are struggling with an injury (Luuk de Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum, Rick Karsdorp) or who are only just getting fit again (Arnaut Danjuma).
Based on all of the above, does Van Gaal see less prospects for the World Cup compared to when he started his third term? “I think the perspective is bigger. That has to do with the implementation of the new game system and the fact that the guys have accepted that system. Moreover, they want to execute it in a good way.”
“In the meantime, we have not lost, built up a great goal difference and we are first in the group. The players are getting more and more confident, so I think we are further now.”
Van Gaal does not see the fact that some key players of Orange now play a lesser role at their club, or are out of shape. “I hired my exercise physiologist, Jos van Dijk, for that. Just like at the 2014 World Cup, he went to Wesley Sneijder in Turkey to get him fitter. That’s why Sneijder saved it then.”
“I’m also thinking about it now, because Memphis has to stay fit, for example. That is a goal in itself, for him.”