With the Netherlands now officially heading to Euro 2020, Ronald Koeman must decide on the 23 players he will take to the tournament.
The Oranje manager has been keen on keeping the squad largely the same since taking over in order to build a tight-knit group. However, many young players have emerged since the start of this season to put themselves in contention, presenting Koeman with some difficult choices.
So, looking at all areas of the pitch, who’s already on the plane and who’s in with a shot of joining them?
On the plane: Jasper Cillessen
The Valencia keeper has been the undisputed number one for his country ever since the last major tournament they qualified for, and, barring injuries, will be for this one.
Likely to go: Jeroen Zoet, Marco Bizot
Zoet has generally been Koeman’s second choice and, despite a drop in form, will most likely continue to be. Bizot meanwhile has been excellent for AZ this season and is the favourite to take the last goalkeeping spot.
In with a chance: Kenneth Vermeer, Tim Krul
Vermeer was picked ahead of Bizot in the most recent squad prior to injury so could well go, while Krul has looked good since returning to the English top flight with Norwich, and his penalty skills could come in handy next summer…
On the plane: Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Nathan Ake, Stefan de Vrij, Daley Blind, Denzel Dumfries
Centre-back is probably the Netherlands’ strongest position, with four world-class options who will all go to the Euros. Out wide, Dumfries and Blind have been Koeman’s first choice full-backs, and with no stand-out alternatives, that’s unlikely to change.
Likely to go: Joel Veltman, Patrick van Aanholt
Veltman has been back-up and sometimes first choice right-back since returning from injury, while Van Aanholt has long been Blind’s deputy.
In with a chance: Hans Hateboer, Kenny Tete, Jetro Willems, Owen Wijndal
Koeman has selected both Hateboer and Tete at some point in the last year, and both could feasibly still make the cut if they stay in good form for their clubs. On the other flank, Willems has been impressive for Newcastle while 19-year-old Wijndal is another AZ player with bags of talent; Koeman has given his team-mates the nod, so you never know…
On the plane: Frenkie de Jong, Davy Propper, Marten de Roon, Georginio Wijnaldum, Donny Van de Beek
De Jong is arguably the side’s most important player, while Wijnaldum, the side’s top scorer in 2019, isn’t far behind. Propper and De Roon have been the two men to most often play alongside the former, while Van de Beek is a more than capable alternative to the latter. It would be a huge surprise if any of them didn’t make the cut.
Likely to go: Kevin Strootman
Strootman hasn’t offered much on the pitch for the Dutch in a while, but Koeman seems to like his experience and character in the dressing room, shown by the fact that the Marseille man has been in every squad this year.
In with a chance: Teun Koopmeiners, Tonny Vilhena
Koopmeiners has been a revelation in midfield for AZ this season and could be the perfect midfield partner for De Jong, but Koeman may deem it too soon. The manager is known to be a fan of Vilhena who’s enjoyed a good start to life in Russia, but there’s unlikely to be space for him.
On the plane: Memphis Depay, Quincy Promes, Ryan Babel
Depay is obviously a no-brainer, as is Promes, as much for his ability to play right-back against weaker teams as for his attacking threat. Controversially, Babel has been ever-present in the Oranje starting XI for a long time and would surely not go straight from that to not making the squad at all.
Likely to go: Calvin Stengs, Steven Bergwijn
As shown by his dream debut, Stengs fits into the Netherlands side like a glove and offers creativity that no other winger does – Koeman would be made to leave him out. Bergwijn meanwhile has been an established figure in the squad and will surely come straight back into it following his injury.
In with a chance: Luuk de Jong, Wout Weghorst, Myron Boadu, Donyell Malen Mohamed Ihatteren, Javairo Dilrosun,
This is where things get tricky. Given the numbers, it’s likely that only two of this group will be called up. With their height, De Jong and Weghorst provide Koeman with a plan b option if his side desperately need a goal, so expect one of them to go.
The other spot will probably be filled by one of Boadu or Malen, both huge talents who scored on their Oranje debuts, and we don’t envy the boss for having to make that decision. Ihatteren and Dilrosun are both huge talents who could be options out wide should they come into form in the next few months, but it’s a crowded area to break in to.
What we’d do
Koeman is unlikely to change the core of the sqaud that has served him so well since he took over, and we agree with that decision. However, there a few changes we would make.
Maybe we’re just being nostalgic over 2014, but Krul is by far the best Dutch keeper around at stopping penalties, which could come in handy again.
Van Aanholt and Strootman would be back-up if they went and most likely wouldn’t play, so why not give their spots to AZ youngsters Wijndal and Koopmeiners? The two already aren’t far off the ability of the men they’d be replacing, and will surely be parts of the Oranje team in the future, so it couldn’t hurt to give them experience of a major tournament early. Besides, the latter is an excellent penalty taker, which you can never have too many off in a knockout tournament.
Up front, Weghorst proved in the last international break that he offers more than fellow target man De Jong. Leaving Boadu out would be a huge shame, but he doesn’t offer the Plan B option Weghorst does, while Malen too is a massive talent. To be honest, it’s a toss up between those two; as long as Babel isn’t picked ahead of them both, we’ll be happy.