Leeds United defender Pascal Struijk would rather play for the Netherlands than Belgium, Roberto Martinez has confirmed.
Struijk, 21, has impressed in the Premier League for Leeds this season despite struggling to get into Marcelo Bielsa’s first-team in the Championship last term, appearing 20 times in all competitions since promotion was won.
He’s done well enough to emerge on the radar of Belgium manager Martinez. Struijk has played for the Netherlands Under-17s team but was born in Belgium and is eligible to play for the Red Devils.
However, it seems that the Leeds youngster would rather bide his time and try to get a call-up from Dutch manager Frank de Boer.
“It seems that Struijk’s heart has tilted towards the Netherlands. You have to have respect that, even if his profile is interesting,” Martínez told La Dernière Heure.
“I don’t want to create a war between federations. He will therefore not be in my selection [for March]. However, this does not mean that the Struijk case is closed.”
No rush for young Struijk
Although Struijk was born in Belgium, he seems to identify himself as being more Dutch having grown up in The Hague.
He’s also eligible to play for Indonesia due to his paternal grandparents but due to the Asian nation’s lowly stature in world football, it’s unlikely he would ever consider them when Belgium are already knocking a the door.
Martinez’s response to Struijk’s apparent snub is a classy one.
He’s not shutting the door on the left-footed defender, who can also play in the midfield, and also doesn’t seem too bitter about the Netherlands’ chances of snaring the youngster.
From what we’ve seen of Struijk so far, it’s too soon to suggest he could be a regular international for both Belgium or the Netherlands.
However, there does seem to be a better route to Belgium’s squad because, for instance, in their last game against Denmark in November, ageing defenders like Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld started.
There are some young defenders coming through like Koln’s Sebastiaan Bornauw and Standard Liege’s Zinho Vanheusden.
But Struijk’s shown he’s not out of place in the Premier League and that does stand him in good stead if he struggles with a call-up from the Dutch FA.
In other Leeds United news, Mark Lawrenson has predicted Leeds’ clash against West Ham.