Much was made of the signing of Memphis Depay last season, with many fans believing that Manchester United had signed a future Ballon d’Or winner. Depay tore up the Eredivisie, almost single-handedly dragging PSV Eindhoven to winning the division and stopping the Dutch domination of Ajax.
When Memphis arrived at Old Trafford all the signs seemed to point towards him becoming a major success: he was playing under Louis van Gaal, the manager who allowed him to burst onto the scene at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he was also handed the famous number seven shirt at United, the number Cristiano Ronaldo was handed when he first joined the Red’s, so comparisons were instantly drawn between Memphis and the Real Madrid man. However, in reality, the Dutchman never seemed to find his feet in his debut season in the Premier League, he failed to contribute much in the final third scoring only two goals all season and this wasn’t helped by the fact that his talent of scoring from free kicks seemed to mystically abandon him as well! He fared better in Europe with impressive displays against FC Midtjylland and Club Brugge but ultimately this wasn’t enough to convince the manager or the fans about his ability with him not even being included in Van Gaal’s FA Cup final squad.
The arrival of Jose Mourinho looked like it could be the boost Memphis needed to kick-start his United career, but with the arrival of Henrik Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimović and the emergence of Marcus Rashford he only seemed to fall further down the Old Trafford pecking order for a place in the attack. So, for this reason, I suggest that it may be a good idea for the Dutchman to head out of Manchester on a loan deal when the transfer window re-opens this January.
Memphis would have an abundance of potential suitors based solely on the form he has displayed for PSV and on the International stage, as well as his European form from United. He is clearly a player who thrives on confidence, and currently, he looks a shell of his former self. A move to another Premier League club could be a good option for him, perhaps joining a smaller club in the league like a West Bromwich Albion or Bournemouth could be a good choice. It would allow him to be the main man at a club again, which could lead to him re-building his confidence as he could be the figurehead to a club and a hero to the fans, similar to what has happened with Jack Wilshere at Bournemouth. Wilshere is an established international player who has played in the Champions League and at World Cups, but to further his development he has joined a club away from the spotlight that you get at a club like United or Arsenal, he is guaranteed game time at Bournemouth and will return to Arsenal a better player next season because of the loan move.
The other option for Memphis would be to pack up and leave England to test himself in a less competitive league and hopefully threaten defences much like he did in the Eredivisie. A move away from England would also allow him to escape the over-critical English media and just concentrate solely on his football and return to Jose Mourinho next summer as the player United signed from PSV Eindhoven. AC Milan has been credited with an interest with Memphis, and this could be a great move for him, the quality of Serie A isn’t really there with the exception of the few top teams, so the Dutchman would have the opportunity to rediscover his form. The only problem with a loan move being away from the Premier League is just that… he wouldn’t be playing in the Premier League. Memphis has already shown that he can do it for the Netherlands, PSV and in Europe, but the only place where he is yet to have succeeded is in the Premier League. Surely the best option for him would be to challenge himself and stick it out here in England to try to prove all of the doubters wrong and allow them to see why United invested so much in him last summer.
If Memphis does go out on loan I certainly think both the player and the club would reap the rewards. He would be able to get more game time, and if he impresses then he could force a way into Mourinho’s plans for next season, but also it will allow United to see if he can drag himself out of his current slump and become the player they thought he could become. Or he could fail badly on a loan move and show similar signs to the performances he’s shown at Old Trafford for the past year, where almost everything he tries doesn’t come off for him. A loan move could make or break Memphis and his Manchester United future as if he did fail to impress on a loan move then the club could be forced to cut their losses on the player and move him on permanently. That would be a shame for a player who joined the club with such high potential.