Louis van Gaal has confirmed during his press conference on Friday that Memphis Depay is not fit enough to start the Netherlands World Cup opener against Senegal.

The Barcelona forward has not played since September but will head to the World Cup in Qatar.

Van Gaal told his press conference that he was willing to select Memphis because of his importance to the team despite his injury. He said, “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 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.”

A week on Monday, the Netherlands kick off their tournament against Senegal and Memphis will not start, “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.”

The absence of Memphis is good news for Vincent Janssen, with Van Gaal saying, “If Memphis doesn’t play, he will probably be the starting player. That may come as a surprise to you, but not to me. That has to do with plan B and plan C. You have seen that Luuk de Jong and Wout Weghorst have been selected.”




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