AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman says he has no doubt over the ability of youthful defender Matthijs de Ligt, despite an unconvincing league debut for Juventus at the weekend.
Koeman says he will play the 20-year-old in defence on Friday when the Dutch take on Germany in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Hamburg.
De Ligt, who made a high profile move from Ajax Amsterdam in July, was heavily criticised for errors made in Juve’s narrow 4-3 win over Napoli on Saturday. The Serie A champions were 3-0 up before allowing Napoli back into the game but then winning with a fortunate own goal.
“What is all the fuss?” Koeman asked at a news conference on Monday.
“He had a bad moment with (Hirving) Lozano and it didn’t work out as we would have liked for him but we are all too quick to want to make changes.”
“I can show you the press clippings from my debut at Barcelona, which we lost 2-0 and they all wrote ‘what have we bought now?’,” ex-defender Koeman added in reference to his start with the Spanish giants who he later helped to win the European Cup.
“I want to give my players confidence and so our situation will not change. De Ligt will play as the right sided centre back. It is clear he will need time to adapt (in Serie A) and that takes time.”
The Netherlands will play Estonia on Monday in a second Euro 2020 qualifier in three days.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)