Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has offered an update on Memphis Depay and says the Barcelona forward will not start his team’s first game of the World Cup.
Memphis is a key player for the Oranje but has not featured since September due to injury and has hit out at rumors he has been delaying his recovery in order to be in peak condition for the World Cup.
Van Gaal says Memphis is still not fully fit but could potentially come on as a substitute in the Netherlands’ World Cup opener.
“Memphis is still injured, or hasn’t recovered. That is already against my view. Memphis has been so important to this squad. Not just as a player, but also as a person. I’ve kept a place open for that,” he said.
“He is medically fit. I don’t think that’s a good thing, because we’re not a rehabilitation center. So we have to build it up. It’s not like he can just play. I only think he’s so important to this team that I’m willing to put up with it. I already said that two months ago. That I would always keep a place open for Memphis. And also for Frenkie de Jong, only he was less injured.
“Memphis can play as a substitute against Senegal. He’s not going to start. I already know that. In my view, that is a risk that we run as a group. He is the top scorer and the assist king of Oranje. Unfortunately, I can’t change it. He has been training with Leo Echteld in recent weeks. Monday we will continue with the construction. Then we move on. He can do anything.”
Source | Football Oranje
Van Gaal’s side also play hosts Qatar and Ecuador in Group A and will be expected to make it to the knockout stages. Memphis goes into the World Cup as the second highest goalscorer in Dutch history, just eight behind Robin van Persie on the all-time list.