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World Cup 2022: I’ll replace you in my squad – Van Gaal warns Barcelona star

epa09848937 Dutch national soccer team head coach Louis van Gaal reacts during a press conference at the KNVB Campus in Zeist, Netherlands, 25 March 2022. The Netherlands will play two International Friendly soccer matches against Denmark on 26 March and Germany on 29 March 2022. EPA-EFE/MAURICE VAN STEEN

Netherlands coach, Louis van Gaal has warned Frenkie de Jong he may lose his place in the national team for the forthcoming World Cup.

Van Gaal said that the Barcelona star must prove his fitness to earn a place in the Dutch team.

Earlier, Van Gaal had complained about the midfielder’s decision to stay at Barcelona despite serious interests from Manchester United and Chelsea.

Van Gaal acknowledges that De Jong is vital to how he wants to play, with the former Barcelona midfielder the only one capable of beating the opponents’ press from the base of midfield.

Van Gaal says he will give the midfielder as long as possible to prove his fitness but warned the midfielder that he would find another player to fill his role if he cannot.

“I have let go of that dogma [only selecting players that play for their club] for a long time, otherwise I would not have selected Steven Bergwijn, for example,” Van Gaal explained to reporters.

“Memphis and De Jong are two very important players who have left. I have encouraged them: I will keep a place for you for as long as possible. Free, but you have to be fit.

“The fact that the Dutch national team is not a rehabilitation center certainly applies to the World Cup. But I have to trust that they are fit when they say that.

“That’s why I look at being complementary to De Jong, but I also see if I can find someone else for it, because we have to be prepared. You never know how a hamstring injury will turn out.”

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