Erik ten Hag has made a steady start to life in the Premier League, and the Red Devils have won all four fixtures across all competitions since the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup, but there is an undeniable necessity for a new established centre-forward to lead the line.
According to The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell, Manchester United have Memphis Depay ‘under consideration’ as a potential candidate to bolster the centre-forward position after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo by mutual consent in November.
Depay was previously on the books at Old Trafford, signing for the cub in a £31m deal in 2015 from PSV Eindhoven, before departing for Olympique Lyonnais after a lacklustre season, but he has since grown into his skin and could make a marked improvement on the United attack should he arrive once again.
Depay only managed to score two Premier League goals and one assist during his season-and-a-half stay in English football, following a tremendous campaign in the Eredivisie where he plundered 22 goals from 30 outings.
Since his brief stint in Manchester, he has gone on to become one of the most prominent forwards in world football, scoring 76 goals and assisting 55 more from 178 appearances for Lyon, and since earning a transfer to FC Barcelona.
A dynamic forward with bite from the left flank and the more traditional central striking position, the 29-year-old Depay has usually adopted the role of the former for Barca.
Indeed, his rank inside the top 6% of attacking midfielders and wingers for non-penalty goals, the top 2% for touches in the attacking penalty area and the top 1% for progressive passes received across Europe’s top five leagues, as per FBref, shows he can flourish in either position under Ten Hag.
His presence could help £85m summer signing Antony to finally flourish; despite scoring three goals from his first three league outings for Man United, the 22-year-old Brazilian has since blanked on five occasions, and could use a creative partnership with someone of Depay’s ilk to bring him into the limelight.
With the 43-goal Netherlands international playing so high up the pitch, naturally gliding into pockets of space and searching to unleash his powerful foot, Antony can hover in and around the penalty area, looking to utilise his wand of a left foot to bypass the goalkeeper, offering another dimension to the offence.
The £177k-per-week phenom could rectify the substandard time he spent in England with a return to the Theatre of Dreams, and could add the final ingredient to serve up Ten Hag’s recipe for success.
With United currently situated in fourth place with a game in hand to level-pointed Newcastle United in third, the outfit are clearly already navigating toward the path for greener pastures after a shoddy period that has left the club without silverware since 2017.
However, with the tide seeming to turn, the “magician” in Depay – as lauded by presenter Deji Faremi – could provide that cutting-edge desired to transcend fortunes to the next level, right at the top.