Dutch see Nations League as a prize worth winning
Donny van de Beek will be seeking to achieve with the Netherlands national team what he failed to do at Ajax Amsterdam — win a European title.
The midfielder was one of the heroes of Ajax’s unexpected progress to the Champions League semi-finals, where they were beaten by Tottenham Hotspur.
After the disappointment of being denied a place in the Champions League final despite holding a 3-0 aggregate lead with just 45 minutes to go in the second leg, the 22-year-old now has his sights set on the Nations League with the Dutch side.
While the competition does not have the stature of a World Cup or European Championship, Van de Beek said the Dutch still see it as an important assignment.
They play England on June 6 in the semi-final in Guimaraes and, if they win will progress to the final against either Portugal or Switzerland in Porto on June 9.
“We do want to win, a prize with the national team would be extraordinary.”
With Spurs facing Liverpool in the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday, Van de Beek does not want to dwell on missing out on club football’s ultimate game.
Ajax were just seconds away from winning the tie before Spurs snatched a place in the final in a dramatic finale.
“Naturally missing out on the Champions League final will be going through my head before Saturday but I’m trying not to think too much about it or otherwise I won’t get any sleep,” he told reporters as the Dutch began their preparations at their campus in Zeist on Sunday.
“We can still look back on a great season, with winning the league title and the cup. That we must be pleased about.”
Van de Beek played 57 matches in all competitions for Ajax this season but insists he still has something in his legs for the Nations League.
“I’m grateful the coach (Ronald Koeman) selected me.”
Asked about a possible move away from Ajax, Van de Beek insisted he was still under contract until 2022 before adding, “I’m not saying if I‘m going or staying.”
REUTERS/Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Pritha Sarkar