If Noa Lang wanted to make an impression on Louis van Gaal as he looks to establish himself in the senior Netherlands squad, he certainly did that during Club Brugge’s 1-1 draw with Anderlecht on Sunday afternoon.
Although not in the way he would have wanted.
There has never been any question about Lang’s ability.
It is his attitude, however, that tends to rub people up the wrong way – even his own managers on occasion. Erik Ten Hag bombed Lang out of Ajax despite becoming the first player to score a hat-trick on his full debut for the club in 60 years just a few months earlier.
Comparisons with PSG superstar Neymar are as much a criticism as they are a compliment, owing to his tendency to showboat as much as his dazzling wing-play.
The confident 22-year-old did his reputation as something of a ‘problem child’ few favours against Anderlecht, balancing with two feet on the ball while enraging home support.
“He shouldn’t do that with me,” said a stony-faced Van Gaal, having included Lang in his squad for the October international break ahead of a World Cup qualifying double-header with Latvia and Gibraltar (Voetbal Primeur).
“I don’t think I will call him. He will read this (my comments) in the media, so I expect him to come to me, rather than me to him.”
The ball, then, is very much in Lang’s court.
If one of Europe’s most exciting young wingers wants to win over Van Gaal, if he wants to secure a move to a continental giant like Arsenal or AC Milan – and Voetbal 24 say that he does – it is high-time he stops making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Mikel Arteta, like Van Gaal, does not suffer fools gladly, as Matteo Guendouzi found out last year.
Leeds United, meanwhile, called off a deal for Lang as Marcelo Bielsa had concerns over his defensive output (The Athletic). The honest, hard-working Dan James was chosen instead.
There is a fine line between showcasing your skills and simply showing off. On Sunday, Lang strayed across that line with reckless abandon.
“I want to show that I have become a more mature boy in Belgium. I have grown, as a player and as a person,” Lang protests.
“That’s what I want to show here as well. That is the main goal for me.”
Actions, as they say, speak louder than words.