Netherlands FIFA World Cup: The Dutch made it to the quarter-finals in Qatar, but with plenty of talent coming through, they could do even better in four years’ time. After failing to qualify in 2018, the Netherlands made a strong return to the World Cup stage under Louis van Gaal, reaching the quarter-finals before losing on penalties to Argentina in one of the tournament’s most dramatic matches.

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Van Gaal brought together a squad that paired experienced heads with vibrant young talents and leaves the team in a good place as he steps aside to let Ronald Koeman take over ahead of the European Championship in 2024. Koeman, of course, knows much of the current squad from his previous stint in charge. Given he enjoyed decent success with the Oranje before leaving to join Barcelona.

Louis van Gaal surprised many by selecting the previously uncapped Andries Noppert to start as goalkeeper in Qatar, and Noppert’s performances justified that decision. However, Noppert will be 32 when the next World Cup kicks off. Although age shouldn’t necessarily limit his international career, we are instead opting for Bijlow, who was also in the 2022 squad and is four years younger than Noppert.

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Virgil van Dijk will be 34 by the time the 2026 World Cup begins, meaning he could continue as the leader of the Dutch defense if his body holds up. However, we’re opting for the younger Matthijs de Ligt, who will still only be 26.  The Bayern Munich star has not fared well at major tournaments so far in his career.

De Ligt is too talented to fade into the background, and there is a realistic chance he replaces Van Dijk as national team captain in the near future. Others who could push for selection before the next World Cup include Wolfsburg’s Micky van de Ven and Ajax’s 16-year-old revelation Jorrel Hato, who has already captained the Dutch giants’ Under-19 side.

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A strong performer for Newcastle this season, the ex-Lille man is currently behind Nathan Ake and Stefan de Vrij in the pecking order, but at just 22, he has time on his side. Ake, meanwhile, will be 31 by the time the 2026 World Cup kicks off, while De Vrij will be 34 and likely out of the picture.

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There are younger alternatives at wing-back, including Bayer Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong (21), who made the 2022 squad as backup for Dumfries, and PSV’s Jordan Teze (23). If they switch to a back four, then Ajax teenager Devyne Rensch may also come into the equation, given he is more defensively sound than those already mentioned.

One of the most naturally gifted central midfielders of his generation, it would be a shock if Gravenberch hasn’t fought his way back into the reckoning when the next World Cup kicks off, by which time he will still only be 24. The obvious alternative to Gravenberch would be his ex-Ajax teammate Kenneth Taylor, who did make it to Qatar and was born on the same day as his former midfield partner, so age will not be an issue for him either.

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De Jong will be 29 at the next World Cup, meaning he should still have plenty to offer the Dutch side as the most experienced member of their midfield. The Barcelona man maybe hasn’t become the world-beater many expected when he left Ajax, but it would be a huge shock if he is not seen as a vital cog in the Netherlands side for at least another five years.

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The ex-Barcelona and PSG teenager now has three-and-a-half years to establish himself as a global star ahead of the next World Cup, and few would bet against him doing just that given how he has taken to first-team football in Eindhoven. There are few players with the same potential as Simons as an attacking midfielder in the current Dutch squad.

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Malacia should then take over at left wing-back, with the Manchester United man having been Blind’s deputy in Qatar. The 23-year-old is definitely of the right age, and the hope is that he can develop at Old Trafford into an elite attacking full-back. If things don’t go to plan for Malacia, then Owen Wijndal  who is three months younger is the most likely to step in,.

It feels like Depay has been around for a lifetime, and yet he will still only be 32 when the World Cup next takes place, giving him a real chance to again lead the line for the Oranje. His chances will no doubt be helped by Koeman’s return, who has shown himself to be a huge fan of the Barcelona forward, and so it would make sense for Depay to remain a mainstay of the Dutch team going forward.

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