In May 2015, Manchester United had wrapped up a deal to sign one of Europe’s hottest young prospects at the time: Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven for a fee of £25 million. Dubbed as the “Best Young Player” in the world in 2015 by France Football, the hype and expectations were bound to increase. Fifty appearances and numerous disappointing performances later Memphis Depay is one of the out of favored players by current United manager Jose Mourinho.
Having started just one game this season along with three late substitutions in the Premier League, it seems as if Memphis’ time may come to an end very soon. Nevertheless, Jose Mourinho isn’t the only one who deemed the young winger as second fiddle. Memphis’ downfall began in midst of the 2015-16 campaign when his performances for Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United were consistent, in the bad way. His performance was that of a player who was not ready for the Premier League’s physical game. Calls for him getting dropped increased, and once Van Gaal utilised academy graduate, Jesse Lingard, 30-year-old Ashley Young and Anthony Martial on the left-wing, it was clear that Memphis would have to fight his way into the first team. As fans that grew up watching wingers like David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo struggle their way into the first team, most of us were optimistic enough to think Memphis would do the same. But that wasn’t the case. Since then Memphis was overshadowed by Anthony Martial’s consistent form and couldn’t fit in the abrupt formation changes.
On came the second leg of the Europa League Round of 32 against Danish side FC Midtjylland, where United had to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg, Memphis Depay was bound to start after injuries to Anthony Martial and Ashley Young. Despite the limelight on 18-year-old debutant Marcus Rashford, it was Memphis who put up a Man of the Match display in a whopping 5-1 win along with grabbing himself a goal. In the following Premier League game, a home match against Arsenal, Rashford, once again stole the limelight in a 3-2 victory. However, among a lot of positives, Memphis’ display excited United fans. What we didn’t except was the array of disappointment that followed.
By the end of the season Memphis managed to get only seven goals in all competition. His mentor and fellow country man, Louis van Gaal was sacked from his post as manager, despite the FA Cup triumph. Things seemed to look good for him when Jose Mourinho was announced as the Manchester United manager and had his mind on keeping him the upcoming season. But when Bundesliga’s Player of the Year, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was recruited from Borussia Dortmund, the chances of him winning over the manager looked even slimmer.
Despite coming on in the 82nd minute in the 0-0 draw against Burnley, Memphis did not have any impact in the team. Similarly, in my opinion, he will not have any impact to the team’s form if he is re-introduced to the first team. The problem for United does not lie in the wings, but in the final third, hence if anything, Memphis will only slow down the team’s tempo of the game.
So what now for our poor old Memphis? Should he stay in the team? Does he stand a chance in Mourinho’s United? And if yes, will it be enough to reignite his career? The questions are many, but the answer is straight forward.
Italian Newspaper Corriere dello Sport suggests that AS Roma are keen on purchasing the young Dutchman in the coming January transfer window. According to the newspaper, Memphis will be a replacement for the International Duty bound Mohamed Salah. The same news media also reported that French side Lille interested as well in buying the Dutchman, while another Italian News media states that AC Milan may try to swoop in the 22 year-old. The rather interesting news, however, came from the Mirror and Metro who claim that Manchester United will be rejecting a £15 million offer from Turkish giants Galatasary, since they want to avoid taking a loss of £10 million.
The situation is far more difficult for Memphis since the club does not want to sell him just 16 months after purchasing him, therefore, the most logical solution to this would be for the club to consider sending him on loan. This action would benefit both, the player and the club. Sending Memphis on loan to a club like Roma, Galatasaray or AC Millan would benefit him as he will get a chance for boosting his long-lost confidence as well as experiencing regular first team football. The club would benefit by an increase in their wage budget as well as having the opportunity to make their decision on Memphis in the coming transfer windows, based on his performances in his loan period.
By Umang Bharali