Memphis Depay is undoubtedly the Netherlands’ key man up top. However, with a severe injury making him a doubt for Euro 2020, who could replace him?
Despite Donyell Malen also being ruled out with injury, Koeman still has a decent number of options available to him, both in terms of personnel and playing style.
Join us as we run through all the potential solutions and decide who, in our opinion, is Oranje’s best bet to replace Depay.
Tried and tested
Let’s start with what Koeman has done so far. When Depay was unavailable for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Belarus and Northern Ireland late last year, Malen and Babel were chosen to play up-front instead.
With Malen injured, that would suggest Babel may well get the nod. However, he failed to impress against Northern Ireland, making little impact going forward and being a large reason why the team failed to score.
It’s well known that Koeman is a fan of Babel for his attitude and experience, but given the 33 year-old’s poor performance in the role, it would be a surprise if the Netherlands boss didn’t look elsewhere for his striker.
The young gun
Malen may be out but the Netherlands still have another exciting talent at their disposal in the form of 18-year-old prodigy, Myron Boadu.
The AZ man has been in excellent form this season, scoring 16 goals in all competitions and assisting a further seven. This form earned him his first Netherlands call-up and he settled in seamlessly, scoring on his debut against Estonia.
Boadu is quickly developing into the complete forward the Dutch need. He’s excellent in the box but is equally comfortable dropping deep to link up with the midfield, a crucial task Depay does so well for Oranje. If he can stay fit and in form, he may well be the best option to replace the Lyon man.
A target man
Ronald Koeman has generally used the target men he has at his disposal as a last resort when his side need a goal. However, in his search for an alternative to Depay, could he hand Luuk de Jong or Wout Weghorst a larger role?
De Jong has long been favoured by Koeman and scored a crucial late goal against Northern Ireland. However, he has been in poor form since moving to Sevilla and was quite frankly terrible when he started against Estonia. Keep him on the bench Ronald, for our sake and yours.
Weghorst has been in better form, scoring 11 goals for Wolfsburg this season. He also offered far more than De Jong when he replaced him against Estonia, linking up and creating chances. Nevertheless, starting a striker of his nature would be a departure from the fluid attacking style that has served the Dutch well, so it seems unlikely.
The wildcard option
Despite playing up-front, Depay is far from an out and out striker. He has a free role and roams around to find pockets of space he can be most effective in. Given well this worked, Koeman may want to find a like for like replacement. If so, Steven Bergwijn could be the answer.
The PSV man is naturally a winger, much like Depay was, but has started to play more centrally this season. In such a role, he has scored five goals and got 10 assists in 15 matches, which is pretty damn impressive.
He’s quick, is an excellent dribbler and can create chances and finish them himself. His lack of experience as a striker may be an issue, but if Koeman wants someone to do the job Depay does, Bergwijn is surely the best option he has.
Who should Koeman choose?
Stats aren’t everything, but in this case, the number don’t lie. Boadu is the Netherlands’ most in-form striker by far, has everything the side need in a striker and possesses huge potential. Oh, and his near-telepathic connection with Calvin Stengs is an added bonus.
That being said, we really do think Bergwijn could be excellent if he can adapt to the role in the games prior to Euro 2020. The free way in which Depay played was what the made Oranje’s attack tick, and Bergwijn is the most similar player Koeman has at his disposal.
Perhaps Depay himself will manage to recover in time and this will all be a moot point – wouldn’t that be great? Either way, at least there are some decent alternatives out there. No, not you Luuk. Sorry.