Louis van Gaal hits back at Memphis Depay over Cody Gakpo request | Football

Memphis Depay has indicated he would prefer to play up front with Steven Bergwijn instead of Cody Gakpo (Picture: Getty)

Louis van Gaal has questioned Memphis Depay’s decision to go public with his preferred choice of strike partner for the Dutch national team.

The Barcelona forward arrived at the World Cup with nagging doubts over his fitness but is in contention to start Saturday’s last 16 tie against USA.

In Depay’s absence Cody Gakpo has thrived scoring three times in successive matches and has emerged as one of the stars of the World Cup so far.

Despite Gakpo’s performances, Depay insists he would prefer to be partnered with Steven Bergwijn during the latter stages of the competition.

‘I have a great click with him (Gakpo) but I think I prefer to play with Steven Bergwijn,’ Depay said earlier this week.

‘He is even more ball-resistant and then Cody can get the ball behind him. But we have many different players with qualities.’

Depay, who netted 12 goals in qualifying for the Dutch, is unlikely to be granted his request, however, with Van Gaal shutting down any notion of him dropping Gakpo at his pre-match press conference.

‘These things happen, that players ventilate their views, but whether it’s sensible or not, that’s another issue. Everybody has their own opinion, particularly in the Netherlands,’ the 71-year-old said.

Van Gaal described Saturday’s opponents as very strong, while reporters from neighbouring Belgium made overtures for the combative coach to take over their national team after Roberto Martinez stepped down following Belgium’s exit on Thursday.

‘You’ve got to convince my wife,’he told the Belgians, which prompted a follow-up question from an African reporter about whether or not he would be prepared to move there.

‘I don’t think so but you’ve got to keep your options open,’ Van Gaal joked, before getting back to the business in hand.

‘The USA has demonstrated that it has an excellent team, I would even say one of the best teams, a team that is fine-tuned (but) it’s nothing we can’t overcome,’ Van Gaal added ahead of the game at the Khalifa International Stadium.

‘The USA that is a very energetic squad, they have physically strong players and that is tough for any opponent, and you can tell from their results, but we will do everything we can to win and to beat USA, that’s it.’

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