In August of 2020, Netherlands national team manager Ronald Koeman took advantage of a clause that allowed him to break his contract to take a job with Barcelona, abandoning his country after helping them to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.
Today, following news that new Liverpool signing Ryan Gravenberch had opted out of joining up with the Dutch U21s for qualifiers against Moldova and North Macedonia in order to acclimatise to his new home, he shared his good for me but not for thee opinions on the 21-year-old’s decision.
“For Ryan Gravenberch, we are not happy with that,” said Koeman, who returned to the Dutch team in 2022 after failing at Barcelona. “Nigel [De Jong] has also been in contact with him. You can make a step through good performances at the Dutch Juniors. That is your duty as a player.”
Another Dutch player, Jeremie Frimpong, recently turned down a U21 call-up and has since found himself frozen out at the senior level by Koeman, whose senior side sit fourth of five in their qualifying group and face a pair of must-win games against Greece and Ireland this international break.
Koeman’s managerial career has largely been an exercise in futility since choosing to depart PSV in 2007 to join Valencia, where he lasted less than a full season with the La Liga side before being sacked. He returned to the Dutch league with AZ Alkmaar but was sacked in less than a year.
Relatively successful spells at Feyenoord and Southampton followed, winning nothing but seeing him leave by choice for better opportunities. The first, Everton, ended in near-relegation. Then came the Dutch team, abandoning them for Barca, failing at Barca, and returning to the national team.