Ronald Koeman is set to select a new Netherlands captain this week who will lead Oranje in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Michael Bell takes a look at the top candidates for the job.

At his press conference on Monday, Koeman confirmed that he will be picking a new leader this week, but ruled out any goalkeeper or striker’s taking the armband. That leaves a handful of possible candidates capable of leading the national team going forward.

Virgil van Dijk

Koeman admitted in his press conference that Van Dijk is a candidate for the captaincy and it seems the Liverpool centre-back is the leading candidate.

The most expensive defender in the world heads into the international break in excellent form with Liverpool and expectations in the Oranje camp are high that he can be the man to finally organise Netherlands defence.

Van Dijk was captain at Southampton and wore the armband at times during his spell with Celtic. The 26-year-old is a commanding presence on the pitch, has the respect of his teammates and has dealt well with the pressure of being the first defender to cost €85 million.

The man himself said on being captain, “How would it be for me? I can hardly describe. A dream come true.”

Stefan de Vrij

If van Dijk is not the defender that Koeman has his eye on then it could be De Vrij, who played for years under the Oranje boss when he was at Feyenoord. Koeman even named De Vrij as Feyenoord captain at the start of the 2012-13 season but took it off him shortly afterwards in favour of Graziano Pelle.

However, since then De Vrij has taken his game to another level at Lazio and is set for a big move in the summer with Inter Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea all linked with the defender, who will be available on a free.

Like van Dijk, De Vrij is a natural leader on the pitch and has the experience to lead Oranje having made more than 100 appearances for Lazio and earned 33 caps for his country.

De Vrij may not have been the man to lead Koeman’s Feyenoord but he has definitely matured as a player and deserves to be a candidate.

Georginio Wijnaldum

With Wesley Sneijder retiring from international football a lot of focus will now come on Wijnaldum, who many believe to be the most talented midfielder Netherlands currently have.

The 27-year-old is playing weekly at a high level with Liverpool in the Premier League and Champions League, while he also has experience of being a captain after taking the armband during his last two seasons with PSV Eindhoven.

Wijnaldum is also one of the most experienced international’s in the squad with 45 caps, only Ryan Babel has more.

Kevin Strootman

 

Strootman has come under constant criticism for his erratic performances in Oranje but there is no doubt that the Roma midfielder has the quality to be a leader on the pitch.

The 28-year-old had captain experience at PSV Eindhoven and has made over 120 appearances for Roma having finally gotten over the injury issues which have held him back over the last few years. He has captained Netherlands in the past as well, taking the armband in the recent friendly with Scotland.

A fully fit and in-form Strootman will be a valuable player for Koeman going forward and one way to finally get the best out of the midfielder may be to give him the armband.

Other possible candidates

Daley Blind: Not with the Oranje selection after falling out of favour at Manchester United, while he is also struggling with fitness. When he does get back on form, Blind is one of the natural leaders.

Memphis Depay: Koeman said during his press conference that he expects Memphis to become one of the key players at Oranje, and step up to replace Arjen Robben. He may be erratic at times on the pitch but one thing Memphis doesn’t lack is self-confidence and if he was given the armband it may take him to another level. It is an unlikely choice, but Memphis has never been scared to give his opinion or shirked away from his responsibilities after a defeat.




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