One of Louis van Gaal’s signings whilst he was in charge at Old Trafford, Memphis Depay didn’t quite enjoy the Manchester United career that either he or his manager would have been hoping for.
When the Dutchman arrived in a £31m deal from PSV, Van Gaal was particularly effusive in his praise of the talented winger. Reports had suggested the likes of PSG and Liverpool were also interested in securing his signature, but in the end, they both missed out to the Red Devils.
“He is a young versatile player who has the ability to play in a number of different positions. It will take time for Memphis to get used to the rhythm of the Premier League. But I have no doubt that he has the potential to become a great footballer for this club and he is at the right club to continue the good work he has done so far.” Van Gaal, June 2015
53 appearances later however, and Depay was out the Old Trafford exit door. The 25-year-old could only muster seven goals and six assists in his time for the club, and he was promptly let go to French giants Lyon. The Netherlands international has reinvented his career since joining them in January 2017, finding the back of the net 50 times.
That form has led to speculation in recent weeks claiming Depay could move away, and Lyon sporting director Juninho confirmed United have the first option if transfer interest starts hotting up. Having seen him struggle in his initial spell, should the Red Devils take the plunge once more and see if he is finally ready for the spotlight?
Here’s what the Football FanCast writers have had to say on the matter.
“The missing piece of United’s jigsaw might well be a direct centre forward but I can’t help but feel this would be a mistake from Woodward. The Red Devils have a bustling sense of energy in attack with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Dan James and Anthony Martial but Memphis Depay is very much in the same mould.
“He’s a tricky individual with pace and flair, very much like the rest of them and despite his phenomenal record in France, netting 11 goals already this term, I’m not convinced another spell in the Premier League would be beneficial for United or the player.
“Ligue 1 is a different ball game to England’s top-flight and as he’s already shown, he wasn’t cut out for the physicality of the football in his first spell at United, scoring just seven times. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs a striker but Depay is not the answer, especially at the quoted £50m. United need to look for better value elsewhere.”
“The old adage saying in football is that you should never go back. Regardless of how you once departed, as you may tarnish a previously good reputation or make you even more hated than you already are. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be making a major mistake in not swooping in on that first option on Louis van Gaal flop Memphis Depay.
“The 25-year-old has been reborn at Lyon since swapping Old Trafford for France’s ‘food’ capital, and he has been the one eating the rewards. Per Transfermarkt, Depay has hit 50 goals in 130 appearances, which is a decent return for a wide player. But what is most interesting is how he has improved as a striker – a number nine.
“In 38 matches leading the line, the Dutch international has bagged 15 goals and seven assists, meaning he has become an interesting prospect and one that can help fill the Manchester United’s void upfront. Both OGS and Ed Woodward made catastrophic errors in allowing Romelu Lukaku to leave the club without finding a replacement of note.
“Depay can be that man to lessen the burden on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial if the Red Devils are ever presented with such an opportunity to re-sign him.”
“I think that re-signing Memphis Depay would be foolish for Manchester United, and it could very well end up with egg on their faces.
“There’s no doubting that the Dutchman has been successful since moving to Lyon, but has he not just rediscovered the form he showed at PSV before his move to Old Trafford? Ligue 1 and the Eredivisie just aren’t up to the same standard as the Premier League, and Depay has already proven that he isn’t cut out for England’s top division.
“The saying goes ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’ and if United go back in for their former flop they could end up looking incredibly stupid for outlaying money for a player that has already shown that he’s not up to scratch at this level. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side should steer well clear.”
“When Depay joined United back in 2015, he was just 21, with his only experience of top-flight football coming in the Eredivisie. At 25, the Dutchman is no doubt a more rounded individual, better capable of dealing with the pressures of playing for one of the biggest sides in the world. He has been the main man at Lyon since joining, scoring 50 goals and providing a further 42 assists in 130 games.
“In taking up their first option on him, the Red Devils could give the forward the chance to revisit unfinished business at Old Trafford. The age-old chip on the shoulder could inspire him to far greater heights, and truly allow for the United faithful to see the very best of him. The 51-cap Netherlands international could prove to be a shrewd acquisition indeed.”