Leeds United defender, Pascal Struijk has turned down advances made by the Belgium international team who made a bid to lure the Dutchman into their ranks.
Born in Belgium, Struijk grew up in The Netherlands and considers himself as such. However, he did not take this decision lightly, applying for a Belgian passport in order to keep his options open while he considered his options.
Struijk has played just three international games in his career, all of which coming in the Netherlands under-17 team.
The 21-year-old has performed brilliantly in his breakout season for Leeds, making 21 Premier League appearances at the time of writing, scoring one goal and keeping five clean-sheets.
Belgium head coach, Roberto Martinez has now revealed that Struijk has decided to stick with representing The Netherlands, saying:
“It seems that his heart lies with the Netherlands,
“We have to respect that, even if his profile is interesting. I don’t want to start a war between different federations. So he will not be in my selection. But that does not mean that the file is completely closed.”
Martinez has not completely ruled-out Struijk as a possible option in the future though, likely due to the fact that Struijk is yet to make a senior Netherlands squad and has not made his debut for the Dutch team.
Considering his current position, there is some stern competition in the current Netherlands squad. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) Stefan De Vrij (Inter Milan), Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Matthijs De Ligt (Juventus) and Sven Botman (LOSC Lille) provide that competition and will do for the next few years at least, some of them much longer.
Meanwhile, the Belgium back-line is ageing so some extent. Two of their main three centre-backs are nearing the end of their careers, with an open space ready for Pascal Struijk to take as part of the long-term future of Belgium’s team if he so wants it.
Regardless of where his heart is, Pascal Struijk may yet return to talks with the Belgium national team as it may be his only option to play consistent international football in his career. Only time will tell though.