Depay move to Barcelona 'a relief' for Netherlands boss De Boer

By Sports Desk June 20, 2021

Netherlands head coach Frank de Boer is relieved Memphis Depay's free transfer to Barcelona has gone through, because it removes a major distraction.

Barca confirmed on Saturday that the 27-year-old has agreed a two-year deal at Camp Nou that will officially go through when his Lyon contract expires at the end of this month.

Depay's future had been a hot topic of discussion ahead of the Netherlands' first two Euro 2020 matches – a 3-2 victory over Ukraine and a 2-0 win against Austria.

De Boer now wants Depay to do his talking on the pitch and is hopeful the forward can become an even better player after joining the Catalan giants.

"We are all looking for an improvement from him," De Boer said at a news conference on Sunday, previewing his side's final Group C clash with North Macedonia.

"It is a relief over the transfer to Barcelona, and maybe it can give him something extra to perform at the highest level.

"We need Memphis performing at his best level to reach as far as we can in this tournament. We are full of confidence and he is too.

"He knows what he wants, that's the reason why he's a special player for us."

Depay enjoyed an impressive final season in Ligue 1 with 20 goals, trailing only Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe (27).

The former Manchester United attacker's 12 assists and 94 chances created, meanwhile, were more than any other player managed in France's top flight.

He scored a penalty for the Netherlands in their win over Austria to make it eight goals since De Boer took charge last September – ahead of Sunday's Euros games, only Belgium's Romelu Lukaku had scored more across all competitions for a European nation over this period (10).

And while Depay has not been at his best in Oranje's two group games thus far, De Boer has full confidence in the PSV academy product.

"I think Memphis is the first person to criticise his own game, to say he can do better than he's shown so far," De Boer said.

"He's self-confident and knows exactly what he wants. He knows perfectly well if he played well or not, so let's hope for us that he can reach the level we have in mind.

"But still, he's really important for this team. In your eyes he maybe performs a little less than expected, but he won and scored a penalty, created some chances too, so we are confident about him."

The Netherlands are already assured of top spot in Group C ahead of Monday's match with North Macedonia, who are no longer able to reach the last 16 in their first major tournament.

De Boer plans to make changes to his starting line-up but has warned that his side will not take their foot off the gas at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

"North Macedonia want to get their first ever points at a tournament," he said. "They are proud to be here, but we want to win and will be taking it seriously.

"There is no way we will be taking them lightly. They beat Germany 2-1 recently so this will not be an easy game."

The Netherlands have never lost against North Macedonia, winning two and drawing two of their four previous meetings.

Related items

  • Klopp backs Nunez to soon get off the mark at Anfield after Rangers frustration Klopp backs Nunez to soon get off the mark at Anfield after Rangers frustration

    Jurgen Klopp says it will only be a matter of time before Darwin Nunez gets his first Liverpool goal at Anfield after the striker failed to find the net against Rangers.

    Liverpool ran out comfortable 2-0 victors against Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side in the Champions League, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah on target.

    Allan McGregor was forced into eight saves to keep the scoreline down, while Nunez had more shots than any Liverpool player in the match – finding the target with four of his attempts.

    The former Benfica striker's six efforts were the most a Liverpool player has had without scoring in a Champions League group stage game since Sadio Mane against Salzburg in December 2019 (also six).

    Despite just the sole strike to Nunez's name in the Reds' first Premier League game of the season at Fulham, Klopp insists the 23-year-old will soon get off the mark at home.

    "I think you can see that. The way the boys moved together up front today was extremely good for just one [training] session," Klopp said of his attackers responding to a change in shape against Rangers.

    "We only had one session, low intensity because we only played recently, so it showed how good a striker he is, getting into these situations. Everybody saw tonight, this will happen."

    Liverpool trail Group A leaders Napoli, who hammered Ajax 6-1 on Tuesday, by three points ahead of a return trip to Rangers next week after visiting Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.

  • 'Maradona will have been proud' – Spalletti revels as Napoli hit Ajax for six 'Maradona will have been proud' – Spalletti revels as Napoli hit Ajax for six

    Luciano Spalletti declared "even Diego Maradona will have been proud" after Napoli thrashed Ajax 6-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

    Despite falling behind to Mohammed Kudus' ninth-minute opener in Amsterdam, Spalletti's side responded with goals from Giacomo Raspadori, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Piotr Zielinski putting them 3-1 up at the break.

    The visitors' task was made easier after Dusan Tadic's second-half dismissal; Raspadori and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia increasing the advantage, before Giovanni Simeone sealed an emphatic victory.

    Spalletti referenced the late Maradona after Napoli scored six times in a European game for the first time in their history, while Ajax suffered their heaviest defeat in all competitions since November 1964.

    "When you go into a stadium like this, with that roar there, it's not easy to immediately regain the conviction in pressing and recovering after going a goal down," the Napoli coach told reporters. 

    "It could have disturbed us a lot, but the team did the things it had to do; they never let themselves be influenced and won a great match.

    "More than the result, it is beautiful as the performance shows us our qualities; the boys played important football and will benefit because they have all seen it. They played very good plays, even Maradona will have been proud tonight."

    Continuing their perfect start to the competition after making it three wins from three, Napoli are three points clear of Liverpool at the halfway point in Group A, and in the driving seat to reach the knockout stages.

    "With this victory, we have excellent chances [to qualify], but we have to achieve other results," Spalletti added. "What gives context is the quality of the opponents who we produced this performance against, they are a great club."

  • 'We have to be more clinical' - Conte rues missed opportunities in Eintracht draw 'We have to be more clinical' - Conte rues missed opportunities in Eintracht draw

    Antonio Conte has urged Tottenham to be "more clinical" after they were held to a goalless draw by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League.

    Despite registering 11 shots on goal, Spurs failed to score in successive group games in the competition for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

    Conte's side subsequently missed the chance to move top of Group D, but the Italian praised the intensity and personality demonstrated by his players on the back of a 3-1 North London derby defeat at Arsenal.

    "We played a match with great intensity; we didn't allow them to play their football or press a lot in every area of the pitch," he told BT Sport.

    "At the same time, we have to be more clinical. We created many chances to score. At the end, we are talking about a draw. It is a good draw because it is not easy to play away with the atmosphere. We played a good game but if you don't score, you don't win.

    "There are moments you are more clinical, there are moments like in the game against Arsenal and today; you create chances, but make a mistake with the last pass.

    "It is important to create chances; the game was good for us and we played with a great personality."

    Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was left disappointed by his team-mates' failure to turn positive build-up play into a breakthrough, but the midfielder highlighted the maturity on display as they ended a run of three successive away defeats in the Champions League.

    "We are not 100 per cent happy, I thought we prepared until the penalty area well," Hojbjerg said. "We tried to get in behind them, but the opportunities we had, we didn't use them. It's disappointing. The last bite needed a bit.

    "I thought we took the game well, we tried to be dominant. We tried to find the spaces and tried to overcome the first pressure.

    "If you cannot win, you don't lose the game. The team presented themselves as very mature. We are here, we are competing and every game, we want to win."

    Spurs are second in Group D, two points behind Sporting CP and level on points with Eintracht.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.