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Koeman: 'Memphis has nothing to prove'

Publish on 23/03/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman is a huge fan of Olympique Lyonnais forward Memphis Depay, despite the brash 25-year-old's lack of form and game time in Ligue 1 Conforama of late.

Everyone knows that Memphis Depay is capable of huge performances and spectacular goals, but the mercurial forward has scored just once since November - against Toulouse in March - and hasn't featured in either of Olympique Lyonnais' last two league outings. Nonetheless, Netherlands boss Koeman has complete faith in his main man.

"Memphis has nothing to prove to me," said the former Barcelona defender and Everton coach, who has started all 11 matches of the Koeman era, being subbed off just once as he scored seven goals and provided four assists, more than any other Dutch player in the same period. "He has proven his quality to me often enough. He has an important role in this national team and just needs to keep on doing what he has been doing with us."

'Very important'

Although the silky-skilled Depay is no target man, Koeman has opted to play him as a centre-forward, and suggested to OL boss Bruno Genesio to do the same when the Rhône valley club were looking for solutions up front at the end of last season. The move paid off then, as it has for Koeman.

"Is he indispensable? I don't know; we've never played without him," said the Oranje boss, whose side take on Germany in Euro 2020 qualifying action on Sunday night. "But he's very important."

Fan the flames

Indeed, when the Netherlands kicked off their qualifying campaign on Thursday, Memphis stepped right up with two goals and two assists in the emphatic opening win against Belarus.

"Memphis has a bit more freedom with us than he has with his club. With [Ryan] Babbel, [Eric] Wijnaldum and [Steven] Bergwijn, things are well organised. They're comfortable with each other and they enjoy their football," explained Koeman before turning his attention to the clash with traditional rivals Germany. "But Memphis can still improve. He wasn't always on top of things when we played Germany last time [a 2-2 UEFA Nations League draw], especially in terms of pressing. I told him as much."

Business end

Lyon will be hoping that Memphis can bring some of his Orange form and confidence back to France as a double-header again in-form Rennes- first in the league - where OL are hoping to pip LOSc to second place - and then in the Coupe de France semi-finals, looms.