Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman understands Matthijs de Ligt could be frustrated with life in the Eredivisie after the Ajax defender hit out at the league's level of competition.
The 19-year-old played the full 90 minutes on Sunday as Ajax thrashed Excelsior 7-1 in Rotterdam, just four days on from a hard-fought 1-1 Champions League draw with Benfica.
Speaking afterwards, De Ligt told Fox Sports: "To be honest, we didn't play at 100 per cent, but we won 7-1. The difference between the sides in the Eredivisie right now is huge.
"The tension is less each time as there's only two teams who are racking up the points. If we keep winning, it won't be a problem, but we have to admit that it's less fun."
De Ligt has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, having impressed in the Ajax first team since making his debut two years ago.
And Koeman, who joined the Catalans as a player in 1989 after spells with Groningen, Ajax and PSV in the Netherlands, can see why De Ligt may want to leave his homeland.
"I just spoke with Matthijs de Ligt about the fact that he thinks he doesn't get challenged a lot in the Dutch league," Koeman told a news conference. "I didn't know that he said that in the press, but I can imagine he thinks like that.
10 - Matthijs de Ligt (19 years, 62 days) is set to become the third-youngest player to reach ten caps for the Netherlands, after Jan van Breda Kolff in 1912 and Mauk Weber in 1933. Rising. pic.twitter.com/5XIXdGv675— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) 13 October 2018
"It says a lot about the level of the Dutch league. I can imagine when you first play in the Champions League and then at Excelsior away, on artificial grass. Then, you have to challenge yourself.
"You expect that from every player, but it's difficult. The intensity in the Dutch league is a lot less, just like the competition. He can go into every match like it's a final. But the atmosphere, the stadium, the pitch... it's all different."
When asked if he thinks it is important for De Ligt to move to a tougher league, Koeman replied: "I think it's clear that a player like Matthijs de Ligt in a certain moment decides to make a step to a bigger league, to another level. Unfortunately, players leave the Netherlands earlier than in my time."
Netherlands are preparing for Nations League matches with France and Germany over the next week, for which Koeman handed a first senior call-up to Hertha Berlin winger Javairo Dilrosun.
"In the Under-21s, they were very positive about Javairo Dilrosun," Koeman said. "Now that [Arnaut] Groeneveld is injured, we needed to look for a solution.
"In the last couple of weeks, we followed Dilrosun and we were very positive about him. He showed in games against RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund away that he is a great talent. I'm going to meet this 'sweet boy' now for the very first time. I'm curious."
|Classy Nadal downs Tiafoe to set up Tsitsipas semi|
|Hoedt leaves Southampton for Celta Vigo on loan|
|Melbourne City 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3: Hosts edge thriller with two goals in last six minutes|
|Wilder won´t even pick up the phone - Hearn not hopeful of AJ bout|
|Sala was on board missing plane, say French authorities|
|Arsenal´s Bellerin out for season with ACL rupture|
|Gatland waiting on ´concrete´ offers|
|Ronaldo accepts prison sentence and €18.8m fine for tax fraud|
|Tsitsipas: It was vital to back up Federer win|
|Awesome Kvitova ends Barty´s home run in Melbourne|
|CA rejects Thunder appeal for full points in abandoned Heat clash|
|Emiliano Sala: Concerns grow for Cardiff striker after plane goes missing|
|Harden unimpressed with refs in Rockets´ 76ers disappointment|
|Ronaldo arrives for sentencing in tax fraud case|
|Record-breaking evening ´one of those nights´ for Warriors star Thompson|
|Hazard still interested in Real Madrid but won´t rule out Chelsea stay|
|Collins moves past Pavlyuchenkova, into Australian Open semis|
|Kohli makes history with ICC awards sweep|
|Thompson sets NBA record with 10 straight made three-pointers to open game|
|76ers hand Rockets largest loss of season, Harden scores 37 points|
|Tsitsipas overcomes Bautista Agut to continue Aus Open run|
|Barcelona move a ´dream come true´ for Boateng|
|Rams coach McVay on Gurley: I´ve got to get him more opportunities|
|Butler´s sprained wrist not expected to keep him out ´long term´|
|Saints owner Benson will ´aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies´|
|Levante to take Copa case to CAS|
|It can happen – Allegri plays down Ronaldo penalty miss|
|Mavericks´ Doncic becomes second-youngest player to record triple-double|
|Yankees send Sonny Gray to Reds|
|Ashley Cole reunited with Frank Lampard at Derby County|
|Arnold ready to mix things up in 2019 Asian Cup quarter-finals|
|Arum: Joshua desperately needs to fight in the United States|
|South Korea v Bahrain: Bento optimistic of continuing unblemished campaign|
|Bolton Wanderers 0 West Brom 2: Baggies bounce up to third after tennis ball protest|
|Confident Moeen ready to shine for England in the Caribbean|
|Juventus 3 Chievo 0: Allegri´s men cruise despite Ronaldo penalty save|
|Boateng completes shock Barcelona switch|
|United Arab Emirates 3 Kyrgyzstan 2 (after extra time): Khalil penalty sets up Socceroos showdown|
|West Indies add Drakes to new-look coaching team|
|Barcelona is a huge opportunity – Boateng confirms shock move is close|
|Donnarumma wishes Higuain luck ahead of expected Chelsea switch|
|Qatar v Iraq: Katanec anticipating ´huge challenge´ in last 16|
|Nuno hit with FA misconduct charge for pitch celebration|
|Furious Carreno Busta and Zverev bow out, Djokovic marches on|
|#NotMartinFromWakefield – Siewert shows viral sensation the door|
|Djokovic feeling the strain after late-night Medvedev battle|
|Henderson sidelined again ahead of Six Nations|
|Australia 0 Uzbekistan 0 (aet, 4-2 on penalties): Ryan heroics see holders hobble onwards|
|Halep exit leaves four-way fight to be crowned number one at Australian Open|
|Super Bowl-bound Rams set for London return, Chiefs to face Chargers in Mexico|
|Huddersfield appoint Siewert as Wagner´s replacement|
|Genoa 0 AC Milan 2: Borini and Suso step up with Higuain left out|
|McTominay signs new Manchester United contract|
|Pizzi to stand down after Saudi Arabia elimination|
|Boateng closing in on shock Barcelona switch - reports|
|Catalans to defend Challenge Cup after resolving RFL dispute|
|Djokovic wears down Medvedev to reach last eight|
|Mouratoglou: I knew ´loyal´ Serena would not fire me after US Open turmoil|
|Barcelona B defender Wague accuses Ejea fans of racist abuse|
|I felt like I had been hit by a train - Halep upbeat despite losing Serena battle|
|Arsenal confirm Mislintat departure|
|Icardi will renew, 100 per cent - Wanda Nara offers latest Inter assurance|
|Japan 1 Saudi Arabia 0: Four-time winners send Pizzi´s men out|
|A souvlaki maybe named after him, a growing fan base – Tsitsipas creating Melbourne buzz|
|Barca winger Dembele out for 15 days|
|Strikers blown away by Hurricanes in Adelaide|
|Ireland lose Beirne for England and Scotland clashes|
|´Innate fighter´ Serena says character key to beating Halep|
|Hudson-Odoi ´an outstanding talent´ - Bayern great Ballack hails Chelsea youngster|
|Scotland call up four as hand injury forces Watson out|