Memphis Depay rose to the top of Dutch football as he starred for PSV Eindhoven. His goals, assists and overall contribution to the team helped the Eredivisie side to the league title in the 2014/15 campaign. His performances did not go unnoticed as it earned him a move to Manchester United.
For many players, a move to the most successful club in one of the best leagues in the world is a dream come true. Whether they get to live that dream or not is a different matter. Depay was hardly given the opportunity to establish himself in his new team.
Prior to leaving PSV, he had been on the path of steady progress. At just 21, he scored 12 goals and set up another seven in the Eredivisie for the club in 2013/14. The next season, he improved on his goal tally netting 22 times and making five assists in 30 league outings.
But adjusting to life in the Premier League proved difficult. Under Louis van Gaal, he made 16 league starts and came off the bench for Manchester United on 13 more occasions. He could only muster two goals in a total of 29 appearances. Blaming a player solely for his performances in the team is always not the best. Managers usually have a huge part to play in a player’s output.
Manchester United chose to part company with Dutchman Louis van Gaal in preference for José Mourinho at the end of the 2015/16 campaign. But that did not make things better for the young Netherlands international. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse as he made significantly less appearances under the new manager. In fact, his name was hardly on the team sheet for league matches.
He made only three substitute appearances under the Portuguese playing just 59 minutes in total. Another four substitute appearances in the Europa League totalling 20 minutes meant it was time to go. French club Lyon swooped in for the player. He concluded the 2016/17 season with the Ligue 1 side netting five times and setting up seven more goals in 16 appearances.
Last season was his first full campaign in the French Ligue 1. He formed a partnership with Mariano Diaz who was brought in recently by Real Madrid. The duo helped the….to a top-four finish thereby qualifying for the Champions League. Diaz was recognised for his performance as he scored 18 goals in the process. Real Madrid came back for their man as they exercised their buy-back clause to bring back the player to the Santiago Bernabéu.
Interestingly, Depay outperformed the Spaniard by contributing to 31 goals in the league. He scored 19 times and made a whopping 13 assists. That’s a better return than Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent times. The Frenchman scored 19 times and contributed nine assists in La Liga last term.
To put things into perspective, Mourinho splashed the cash on Romelu Lukaku as the new goalscorer for the team. The Belgian came up short with just 16 goals and seven assists as Manchester United failed to challenge Man City for the league title finishing in second place, a distant 19 points behind the champions.
If Real Madrid could buy Mariano, then Depay has done enough to prove Mourinho and United made a mistake to have sold him in the first place.
His overall contribution to the team at the Etihad Stadium as Lyon beat Man City in the Champions League also shows a player ready for the big time.
At the international stage, the retiring Wesley Sneijder symbolically handed over his jersey to the 23-year-old stating that he believed he was the man to take over from him for the national side. If that doesn’t say something about the player’s quality, what else will?
Manchester United will be smart to go back for their man. If they don’t, he would probably be playing for a huge rival future.