It’s been an unexpected struggle this season for Memphis Depay.
The flying Dutch winger completed his £31m move to Manchester United from PSV Eindhoven last June and the 22-year-old joined on a four-year contract with the option to extend for a further year.
He finished the previous season as Eredivisie’s top scorer with 22 goals as PSV secured their first Dutch title since 2008.
“This is a dream come true for me, a new chapter in my life and one that I am looking forward to,” said Depay.
But, how things have changed in the space of eleven months for the winger. Even the manager that signed him has now left. With the expectancy of a prolific talent, it is hard to conceive that Depay wasn’t even in the FA Cup final squad. Quite a fall from grace.
Manchester United may want to ditch Dutch flop just a year after signing him after his off-field antics became bigger news than his ability on a football pitch.
Former Utd boss Louis van Gaal sanctioned the summer departure of his 22-year-old countryman, having run out of patience with him. But this coming season and a new manager could see Depay’s fortunes change and here’s why:
Depay only managed two goals all season under LVG, but Van Gaal didn’t play him in his natural position. At PSV he scored plenty of goals, but the United boss played him out left, whereas PSV used him as a frontman. The boy can score goals and as Denis Irwin said recently, “He is a player with a huge talent, who knows what his goal is. He is obviously a typical forward and when he scores goals, his confidence improves a lot. I think he will be a tremendous player.”
A new manager, a slate wiped clean. Jose Mourinho will not want to sell such a talent and Depay can start afresh and show the Portuguese what he’s capable off. Depay labelled the arrival of Mourinho a ‘nice prospect’ after it was put to him that international team-mate Wesley Sneijder called the former Inter Milan boss the best he’d worked under. The talented winger will have to do more than he did under Van Gaal, as the threat of being sold on still hangs over him, but if he can curtail his antics off the pitch, get his attitude right and play like we know he can, then Mourinho is sure to find a place for him.
Depay was part of the Netherlands U-17 team that won the 2011 European Championship. He made his senior debut in 2013, and the following year was part of their squad that came third at the 2014 World Cup. He’s made 23 appearances for his national team, but unfortunately for Depay, the Netherlands failed to qualify for the European Championship this summer. There’s extra impetus for the player to try harder at club level, to then be involved and help his country to the 2018 World Cup finals.
Depay not only needs to show the new boss what he can do, but the fans as well. One of his rare appearances was against the Danish side Midtjylland in the Europa League where Depay, who got on the scoresheet late on, put in a display which led to many on social media claiming the winger was ‘on fire’. In fact praise also came from former favourite Paul Scholes who said, “He thoroughly deserved the goal and European nights have probably been the best nights of his whole season.” The fans were very much on the player’s side after that win, but it’s getting a bit like ‘Depay, who?’ as he warms the bench more often than not. He needs to win the fans back and quickly.
Depay doesn’t appear to lack confidence and can obviously turn it on when he wants, but he needs to start getting his head down to his job and stop the attitude adopted in the past year. Money seems to have gone to his head and whoever is meant to be advising him needs to be sacked and his replacement should start to get his feet back on the ground. If you do it for no one else, do it for yourself. Scholes said: “You give him another year. He’s a young lad you have to remember. He’s had moments of being very good in games and moments of being shocking really. I think he’s another one who has to stay fit and give him one, possibly two, more years. He’s a young lad and there’s definitely a talent there. He did great in Holland. He did great for Holland. This league is a lot tougher but I think there is potential there with him.”
“If you get the ball to him more often than this team seems to do then maybe there will be a player in him.”
And that sums it up – maybe somewhere there is a potentially fantastic player in him, but will he prove the doubters wrong and come up to his £25m price tag?