Ronald Koeman is not surprised that Frenkie de Jong and especially Matthijs de Ligt do not immediately excel at their new clubs Juventus and FC Barcelona. The national coach emphasizes that the pair needs time to get used to a different environment and playing style.
"De Ligt did not look at Napoli on Saturday as I would like to see," said Koeman on Monday at his press conference in Zeist. "At Hirving Lozano's goal, he had a bad moment. It didn't all look like that when I wanted to see it."
Before his press conference, Koeman briefly spoke with De Ligt, who, like the other internationals, reported to Orange on Monday to prepare for the European Championship qualifiers against Germany (6 September) and Estonia (9 September). For the first time this season, the nineteen-year-old defender was given a basic place at Juventus in the 4-3 game with Napoli, as the experienced Giorgio Chiellini is injured. Afterwards he received considerable criticism in the Italian media.
"I think that will happen very quickly," said Koeman. "I remember playing my first game for Barcelona and we lost. Then it was immediately said: what kind of player is that? But in the end it worked out well. De Ligt now just needs time to get used to the surroundings and to a different playing style. I don't doubt him. "
Matthijs de Ligt made his league debut for Juventus on Saturday. (Photo: Getty Images)
"Malen's return must increase"
Despite the lesser start at Juventus, De Ligt at Oranje is certainly a basic place. That also seems to be the case for De Jong, although he is not as dominant in a midfield of FC Barcelona as last season at Ajax.
"De Jong plays a bit more offensive than at Ajax and that requires adjustments," says Koeman. "That makes sense, because Sergio Busquets has been playing for years at the place where De Jong should actually play. You don't just take that away from his position. But both De Jong and De Ligt have enough quality to play through here."
Koeman also does not seem to be going to change much at the Orange, which was together for the last time in the Nations League final round in June. Donyell Malen is the only debutant in his 23-member selection.
"He was the only player outside the regular group who deserves to smell the level," said Koeman about the PSV attacker. "Grinding is a player with many possibilities, who can handle multiple attacking positions. Only his return has to increase."
Frenkie de Jong plays in his first weeks at FC Barcelona as a left midfielder. (Photo: Getty Images)
"Kluivert plays at a higher level than Stengs"
Other notable names in the selection are Joël Veltman, who has been recalled after a long time, and Justin Kluivert, who replaces the injured Steven Bergwijn.
"I brought in Veltman as a stand-in for Denzel Dumfries on the right back position. I think that Kenny Tete plays too little at Olympique Lyon," said Koeman, who preferred Kluivert to AZ striker Calvin Stengs. Kluivert's only international match dates from March 2018.
"Stengs only plays right winger, while Kluivert can also play offensively on the left. And Kluivert plays at a higher level with AS Roma. I must say that Stengs is well developed. We are certainly looking at him with an eye to the future."
Koeman and Orange will complete the first training on Monday and practice sessions are also planned on the KNVB campus in Zeist on Tuesday and Wednesday. The selection will leave for Hamburg on Thursday, where they will play against Germany at 8.45 pm The kick-off of meeting with Estonia is in Tallinn on Monday at 8.45 p.m.
View the program and the positions in the European Championship qualification