Frenkie de Jong hopes that Koeman will stay and does not see the Orange as a top favorite at the European Championships


Portugal, Lagos, 30-5-2021Orange training campFrenkie de Jong changes position with Frank de Boer.PHOTO : Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

Frenkie de Jong (24) is cheerful as almost always, when in the shadow of the Cascade resort in Lagos, Algarve, he talks about visiting family and friends in the Netherlands. Only after Orange’s Sunday morning practice does he join the group, a relaxed first session. Wout Weghorst is in the middle for quite some time during a rondo and national coach Frank de Boer opens the ball with the announcement that he is going to shoot the ball from 40 meters onto the crossbar. Plong, it sounds seconds later, when the ball falls on the aluminum.

De Boer wants the Orange to get a creative player like De Jong ‘a lot on the ball.’ And as handy as De Jong turns away from opponents, he navigates through questions about the unsavory state of affairs around club trainer Ronald Koeman at Barcelona, ​​who may or may not receive his congé from chairman Laporta this week. “I hope he stays.”

It’s verbal maneuvering on the bubbling volcano. ‘A lot is being written. I have not had any contact with the trainer recently. All I can really say is that I have a great relationship with him. He is a good trainer for me. ‘ But the game is clearly on the wagon. “Barcelona is one of the biggest clubs in the world. If you don’t become a champion, there will be whining. In that sense it doesn’t surprise me. The cup won is a prize, but Barcelona wants more. It’s not good enough.’

Intended newcomers such as Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay may join the selection. “I’ll talk to them about that, but I don’t know how serious it is.” With that typical smile: ‘Maybe I know, but I won’t tell. Good players are always welcome. ‘

Lionel Messi

He speculates on the longer stays of the very best. It was nice to see Lionel Messi blossom after months of chagrin. “It’s great to play with him anyway. I mean, when I was 12, he was already the best in the world. As a boy I looked up to him. I think he’s happy now. It would help us a lot if he stayed because he’s still the best by far. I’m still humble against Messi anyway. When you’re in the same position and you can choose between Messi and another player, you always pass the ball to him. If you didn’t, you’d be stupid.’

And as he plays the ball to Messi, De Boer wants him to be on the ball a lot with Orange. De Jong is not tired, despite the busy season with the dramatic ending. ‘We came back well. Granada home, then we could have come out on top. We really should have won it. The disappointment was great. After Levante-out (3-3) it was over.’

He is used to in Catalonia. When he walks through the city, he puts on a cap. Then they sometimes shout: hey Frenkie. He rates his second season as better than the first and that’s how it should be. He is not good at judging the fate of others, for example about Donny van de Beek, who has had a failed first season at Manchester United. “There’s no guarantee. One is ready at 21, the other at 18. Another is never ready. Maybe you just don’t fit in with a club, or the trainer doesn’t see it in you. One is right in the base. The other is immediately the best, a third does not play or needs a year. ‘

Launch game

He will also have to get better himself. He laughs at a reporter who says he is like a Formula I car from Mercedes, but drives like Bottas. “I don’t know exactly what Bottas is driving for. I think I can do more than I showed. That’s what I’m looking for. But I’m not a player who has 15 goals and 15 assists, even if I’m an attacking midfielder. It is possible more than now, although my return as a right half was reasonable.’ He held several positions, scoring three times in the league and three times in the cup. He’s more of a ‘starting the game’ guy. If only I had freedom. I want to be involved in the game. And the ball comes by most often in midfield.’

Let the European Championship come. ‘The focus is shifting. You see advertisements passing by. If I’m not in it myself, I like it.’ He also used to wear an orange shirt with flags on his face. ‘I also had something like this: I want to play at such a tournament. I felt that was always realistic, even when I was 12.’

How good is the Orange now? ‘We compete to win, but we are not a top favorite. We are one of about eight countries that can win the tournament.’ Actually they all say that, the internationals. Has that been agreed? ‘Not as far as I know. That’s the feeling. The stories of players who have already been through tournaments are a lot of fun. I’m very curious how it will be.’

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