Memphis Depay is one of the Netherlands’ most exciting talents. At a time when a lot of the big names within the Oranje squad are ageing, the 22-year-old offers that fresh blood which could help them to recover from a botched European Championship qualifying campaign.
The Netherlands have a tradition of creating great players – Arjen Robben, Marc Overmaars, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Ruud van Nistelrooy to name a few – and Memphis is seemingly following the well-trodden path.
Manchester United are in desperate need for some inspiration on their wings, having not found anybody to replace the magic of Cristiano Ronaldo or Luis Nani (on his good days) since their departures. Although they had Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, neither are truly United standard. With Adnan Januzaj still developing as a player, it was hoped that Memphis would prove to be the bright spark to lead the red side of Manchester on to glory.
But sadly other than in European matches, the Dutchman has struggled to hit the standard expected of him, something that he himself has admitted recently. Why this has happened is unknown, whether it be down to a struggle to adapt to the league, a struggle to fit in with Louis van Gaal’s system, or just a realisation that he is no longer the big fish in a small pond… it could be anything.
Upon arrival at United, it was obvious that the attacker was thinking of himself as the new Ronaldo: he came in with an agenda, and immediately people saw the Memphis brand. But in the first half of the season, that is all we saw, rather than the talented youngster that excited PSV Eindhoven fans.
With only one assist so far this season, Memphis has perhaps been too much like Ronaldo: he has been greedy, and not taken his own chances well enough. His free-kick routine that had got him so many goals in the Netherlands has flopped in the Premier League, and United fans have lost patience. With Depay failing to perform, Jesse Lingard took the initiative and came out from his shadow.
Lingard being ‘one of their own’ to United fans meant that Depay lost his appeal, subsequently he’s struggled to make it into the first team and make an impact. That was until Wayne Rooney got injured, and then Anthony Martial.
Depay since the middle of February has turned his career around to an extent, realising that he does need to work hard to be good enough and to improve himself. Under the stewardship of Ryan Giggs, he can become the player that United forked out £25m for. In the last few games, he has got that spring back in his step, he has the confidence and has stepped up, helping to propel Marcus Rashford into the headlines by providing exciting play.
Although Depay had a poor start to the season, if he can continue his current form there is no reason why he cannot redeem himself.