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Youthful Netherlands have forged strong bond – Wijnaldum

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Nov 2018

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Georginio Wijnaldum believes Netherlands’ concerted push towards youth has removed divides and brought the recent underachievers closer together.

Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum, 28, is among the most experienced members of Ronald Koeman’s latest Nations League squad.

The retirements of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder since the failed World Cup qualifying campaign have left Ryan Babel as the only current international aged over 30.

Koeman’s reliance on the likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong appears to be paying dividends with Netherlands notching an impressive 3-0 win over Germany in October.

“I was always happy to play for the Dutch national team,” Wijnaldum said.

“But now we are closer together because almost every player is from the same generation.

“We like the same things. There’s not a big gap between players.”

Wijnaldum scored the third against Germany and also started the preceding 2-1 defeat to France.

Koeman praised the 51-cap former PSV and Newcastle United man for growing into a leadership role, citing his time at Liverpool as essential to his development.

“Well, first of all, he plays for a great team on a high level. He is also more experienced than a couple of years ago,” the Oranje boss said.

“He is a so-called multi-functional midfielder. His best position is to play a bit more attacking in midfield, but at Liverpool he also shows that he’s able to play a bit more as a controlling midfielder.

“He’s a team player as well. He’s not a player who thinks he is more important than the team. He is always busy to make other players better.

“He is a great player to work with.”

Netherlands must beat France and Germany in their final two fixtures if they are to progress from Group 1 of League A to next year’s Nations League Finals.

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