Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal released the squad list that he will be taking to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022 earlier today. And on the list were two Barcelona players in the form of Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong.
The inclusion of the Barça duo was hardly a surprise considering the importance that they hold in the Netherlands national team.
However, after naming the squad, van Gaal confirmed that Depay will be unable to start in the Oranje’s World Cup opener against Senegal as he is yet to recover fully from an injury. However, the 28-year-old could feature off the bench.
Speaking in a press conference (h/t Mundo Deportivo), the Netherlands manager said: “Memphis will not start against Senegal, but he could come onto the pitch later in the game. I have always said that I would leave a gap open for Memphis, just like with Frenkie de Jong.”
Depay picked up a thigh injury while on international duty with the Netherlands back in September.
Since then, the Dutch winger did not play a single game for Barcelona, even leading to suspicion that he was slowing his recovery to avoid risking further injuries ahead of the World Cup.
A crucial part of the national team setup, Depay played an integral role in the Netherlands’ qualifying for the World Cup after they had missed out in 2018. In total, the Barcelona ace has 81 caps for Oranje, in which he has netted 42 goals.
With the 28-year-old still recovering from his injury, van Gaal will hope that there are no more setbacks as he will need the former Manchester United forward in Qatar.