David Villa isn’t the only former national team great to get a recall this international break.
Former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie was called in by Netherlands manager Dick Advocaat, marking his return to international play, where he last made an appearance back in October of 2015.
The 34-year-old currently plays for Turkish club Fenerbahce, where he’s made a pair of league starts to little impact. He played 67 minutes in a 2-2 season opening draw against Goztepe, and then was yanked at halftime of Fenerbahce’s 2-2 draw with Trabzonspor, failing to register a goal or assist in both games.
Despite his struggles with form and fitness, Advocaat said Van Persie may the best the Netherlands has got.
“I still think he is one of the best strikers we have,” Advocaat said in the squad announcement. “He can make a very important contribution to the Dutch team.”
The Netherlands is in significant trouble in European qualification Group A, where they sit in an elimination position of third place with 10 points, three points back of both Sweden and France. The top team in the group automatically qualifies for the 2018 World Cup, while the second-place group must traverse a playoff game, or even risk straight elimination if enough points are not obtained.
Since the 2014 World Cup, Van Persie has three goals for the Dutch national team in 10 appearances. He made his national team debut in 2005, garnering 101 appearances and 50 goals.