Bayern Munich striker Joshua Zirkzee was surprisingly not called up by the Netherlands U-21 squad for this international period. In a report compiled by AllNigeriaSoccer.com (citing an interview with RTV Rijnmond), Zirkzee appeared to be shocked by by not being one of the 25 players called up by Ducch U-21 manager Marcel Groninger.
“Whether I think it is strange that I have not been called up for the Dutch Juniors? I have nothing to say about that,” Zirkzee said.
With the ability to play for either the Netherlands or Nigeria (his mother is of Nigerian descent), Zirkzee does not appear to be wavering from his commitment to the Dutch despite the omission.
While this is not a huge deal by any means, it is curious. Zirkzee totaled 311 first-team minutes in 12 games across all competitions for Bayern Munich this season and amassed four goals and one assist.
While Zirkzee got off to a hot start with the first-team, there was a drop-off in his performance as the season went on. Did other teams have more of an idea on how to handle him? Was he battling minor injuries? Or did he just not perform to the standard he set in his earlier performances?
Either way, the 19-year-old did appear to struggle with both his positioning, movement, and using his 6-foot-3 inch (1.93 meters) frame effectively during his most recent appearances. For a player like Zirkzee, consistency in game play — and in training — is key.
There were some reported “issues” with Zirkzee’s training habits during the season, but that could have been a one-off situation as it was the only time the youngster publicly drew ire. Zirkzee fired back at those critics and then seemingly washed his hands of the situation, which is exactly how he should have handled it. Hansi Flick did not appear to hold anything against Zirkzee either, as the youngster trained with the senior team throughout the re-start after the COVID-19 induced hiatus.
Regardless, playing behind Robert Lewandowski does not offer many opportunities. The 32-year-old Poland international is in peak physical condition and has proven to be a durable and reliable asset for Bayern Munich. It is becoming clear, however, that whatever Zirkzee has going on at this point, he will need to display some resilience in fighting through it to earn his place in the Dutch international youth squad.
At such a young age, Zirkzee has plenty of time to get sorted, but he will certainly have to take advantage of any playing time he gets when given the opportunity.