Barcelona move to give Depay ‘something extra’: De Boer

ZEIST: Netherlands’ forward Memphis Depay takes part in their MD-1 training session in Zeist yesterday on the eve of their UEFA EURO 2020 Group C football match against North Macedonia. – AFP

AMSTERDAM: Netherlands coach Frank de Boer is hopeful Memphis Depay’s Euro 2020 form will be positively impacted after the confirmation the striker will play for Barcelona next season. Depay has long been linked with a move to the Camp Nou and on Saturday Barcelona announced the 27-year-old had signed a two-year deal to join on a free transfer from Lyon.

“Maybe the transfer to Barcelona will give him something extra to help him perform at his best,” De Boer told reporters yesterday ahead of the Dutch team’s final Euro 2020 Group C game against North Macedonia in Amsterdam today. “We need Memphis at his best to go as far as we want in this tournament but we have confidence in him and he is a confident player.”

Depay, who scored 20 goals in Ligue 1 for Lyon in the season just finished, converted a penalty in the Netherlands’ 2-0 win over Austria on Thursday in front of watching Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman. However he has come in for some criticism from some Dutch fans and media for failing to take other chances.

“I think Memphis is his first critic and I’m sure the criticism doesn’t affect him,” De Boer said of the former Manchester United player, who is a huge star in the Netherlands. “He knows if he played well or not so let’s hope for the Netherlands that he can reach the level that we have in mind.”

The Oranje have already secured qualification for the last 16 as winners of Group C after beating both Ukraine and Austria in their first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup. “When we are doing well we can beat anybody. Hopefully we can grow into the tournament and we still have some better performances to come,” said De Boer, whose team will play in Budapest in the first knockout round against one of the best third-placed sides on June 27.

Victory there would set up a quarter-final in Baku against the runners-up in either Group A or B. “We know our path to the final and to get to the final you have to win every game, so I don’t really care who we play next,” De Boer said. “We have no influence on it.” De Boer said he would make two changes to his team for today’s game at the Johan Cruyff Arena, the outcome of which is academic for both sides: North Macedonia are already eliminated after losing both matches so far.

“They want to get their first ever points at a tournament. They are proud to be here, but we want to win and will be taking it seriously,” said De Boer. “There is no way we will be taking them lightly. They beat Germany 2-1 recently (in a World Cup qualifier) so this will not be an easy game.” – AFP

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