On at 19:12 CEST
Javier Giraldo – Amsterdam (Special Envoy)
As is often the case with almost all the teams preparing for their Eurocup debut, the Netherlands lives immersed in various debates.
There is no lack of opinions about the system that the coach, Frank de Boer, should use, and there is also a diversity of opinions about the forward, with an indisputable protagonist; Memphis Depay, second captain of the national team, player for Olympique de Lyon and most likely, the next Barça signing.
His position on the field, never fully defined -forward center capable of playing on the wing or lagging towards the midfielder-, his character and a point of irregularity made him, until not too long ago, a suspicious player even for the Dutch fans, who saw him grow up at Sparta Rotterdam and explode at PSV Eindhoven before starting his adventure in Europe (in 2015 he signed for Manchester United and in 2017 he went to Lyon).
The other Van Voosen, the other Julio Salinas
“For a while, Depay looked like Peter van Voosen & rdquor ;, explains journalist Maarten Wijffels in the Rotterdam-based daily Algemeen Dagblad (AD). Van Voosen was a Dutch striker, European champion in 1995 with Ajax, whose goal numbers were always ahead of his reputation as a player, something similar to what happened in Spain with Julio Salinas. A collector of ‘haters’ when the word didn’t even existto.
However, Depay has made the debate about his figure no longer so intense. That it hardly exists anymore, in fact. Public opinion is already beginning to shift focus to other aspects. In the Netherlands they talk about the system: De Boer is still determined to play with a 5-3-2 although some players, without going any further Depay himself, have said that they prefer a 4-3-3 and which players should accompany the player Lyon in attack.
Assists, goals and attitude
Depay has managed to overcome those initial suspicions with goals, assists and attitude. Goals and assists belong to the field of numbers and as such, they are indisputable. In the last seven games for the Netherlands, he has participated in at least one goal. In his last 20 international meetings he has scored 13 goals and 13 assists. His season with Lyon was not bad: 22 goals in 40 games, in the league and in the Cup, as the French team did not play in the European competition, having finished seventh in the previous season, also under the command of Rudi García from the bench.
Who should accompany you?
At 27, Holland no longer has doubts about Depay. In any case, on his companion up front: Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg, 28 years old) seems to have more options, but the freshness and speed of Donyell Malen (PSV, 22 years old) also make him an interesting candidate.
Then there is the attitude: Depay is no longer the 20-year-old who was called up to the 2014 World Cup to learn from Robben and Van Persie. Van Gaal, the coach at the time, made it clear to him when he called him up for his first major international tournament. “Take a good look at both of them, because if you go out to play, you’ll have to try to do what they do,” referring to Van Persie and Robben.
It’s been seven years since that conversation: Van Gaal lives half retired on the Noordwijk coast, halfway between Amsterdam and The Hague, and Depay is a consecrated footballer who has gone from gregarious to leader.
Now it is he who acts as a reference with the youngest. “Depay has grown a lot in terms of leadership & rdquor ;, admitted Frank de Boer after the last friendly in preparation for the European Championship, against Georgia. “It assumes more responsibilities and is becoming a benchmark for the youngest. Sometimes he takes too many risks, it is true, but out of every ten times he tries something, eight usually turn out well. And that’s what people want to see. And what we need as a team & rdquor ;.
From Ruud to Memphis
In the last game of the Netherlands, Depay approached the band to receive instructions. But not from De Boer, but from Ruud van Nistelrooy, the team’s second coach: from striker to striker, communication seemed to flow in a more natural way.
Waiting for his signing for Barça to become official (no one expects otherwise in the Netherlands, despite what happened with Wijnaldum, already committed to PSG), the Dutch press highlights another detail, no less important, in relevance and its specific weight in the ‘oranje’ selection.
“Without him, the Netherlands would not have a top-tier striker to scare off their rivals& rdquor;, the experts point out, “as happened with Robben, who almost automatically forced the opponent to play 20 meters further back & rdquor ;. They are different footballers, but if in their day Robben and Van Persie were the depositories of the great Dutch hopes, the chosen one is now called Memphis Depay.