Koeman drops Maatsen, Timber and Olij from final Euro 2024 squad

Koeman (on left) watches Wout Weghorst, Virgil van Dijk and Steven Bergwijn during a training session earlier in the week. Photo: ANP/ Koen van Weel

Ronald Koeman has left Borussia Dortmund defender Ian Maatsen and Feyenoord midfielder Quinten Timber out of his final squad for Euro 2024.

The national men’s team head coach admitted it was a blow for the 22-year-old Maatsen, who is expected to start the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday.

“It wasn’t a difficult conversation,” Koeman told a press conference at the Dutch FA’s Zeist headquarters on Wednesday. “I tried to explain it in my own terms.

“He’s disappointed, obviously. We have a lot of guys for his positions and they got the nod.”

Timber misses out after failing to recover from a muscle strain, while injury also forced Atalanta midfielder Maarten de Roon to withdraw earlier in the week.

The fourth player to miss the cut is Sparta goalkeeper Nick Olij, who was the only uncapped keeper in the 30-man provisional squad.

De Jong “hopeful”

Injured stars Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay are included, as expected, benefiting from Koeman’s successful campaign to have the squads expanded to 26 players for the tournament.

Koeman said he was hopeful that Barcelona’s De Jong, who has not played since spraining an ankle against Real Madrid on April 21, would be fit for the opening match against Poland on June 16.

“It’s going to plan,” the coach said. “He is checking in here on Saturday and by then we’ll have a clearer picture.”

Six of the squad currently play in the Eredivisie – two each from PSV, Feyenoord and Ajax. The English Premier League has the largest contingent with seven, followed by five players at Italian clubs, four from Germany, three from Spain and veteran midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum from Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia.

The most surprising inclusion is Liverpool midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, who has made just four appearances so far for Oranje as a substitute, none during Koeman’s tenure.

Attacking football

Koeman said the 22-year-old had kept his place mainly because of injuries that ruled out other midfielders such as Feyenoord’s Mats Wieffer and Steven Berghuis of Ajax.

“He has a lot of talent but hasn’t played much,” the coach said of Gravenberch. “If some players aren’t fit, it puts you in the frame.”

Tottenham’s Micky van de Ven is selected in defence for his versatility, while Jeremie Frimpong of Bayer Leverkusen gives Koeman the option of playing a five-man defence, the coach explained.

“We have a strong team, but our forwards need to improve how they play when they don’t have the ball,” Koeman said.

“We’re going to play for ourselves and want to play attacking football. We want to be creative and we have the players for it. It shouldn’t be boring football.”

Asked what would count as success in the tournament, the coach replied: “If we win. It’ll be a failure if we say among ourselves that we played below our potential.”

Full squad for Euro 2024:

Goalkeepers (3): Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Mark Flekken (Brentford), Bart Verbruggen (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Defenders (9): Nathan Aké (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Girona), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (Internazionale), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Lutsharel Geertruida (Feyenoord), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), Micky van de Ven (Tottenham Hotspur), Stefan de Vrij (Internazionale)

Midfielders (7): Ryan Gravenberch (Liverpool), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Teun Koompeiners (Atalanta), Tijjani Reijnders (Milan), Jerdy Schouten (PSV Eindhoven), Joey Veerman (PSV Eindhoven), Georginio Wijnaldum (Al Ettifaq)

Forwards (7): Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Brian Brobbey (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Atlético Madrid), Cody Gakpo (Liverpool), Donyell Malen (Borussia Dortmund), Xavi Simons (Red Bull Leipzig), Wout Weghorst (Hoffenheim)

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