Memphis Depay signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2015 for just over £30 million, coming from Dutch team PSV Eindhoven, the same club that Ruud van Nistelrooy signed from all those years before. The young Dutch winger was immediately a hit at the club based on his exploits for his club during the 2014/15 season.
During the 2014/15 season at PSV, the winger made a total of 40 appearances for the club, playing in the Eredivisie, the UEFA Europa League (from the qualifying rounds) and in the KNVB Beker. He scored 28 goals and eight assists for his club, who were crowned the champions that season, a good exit for the winger.
His first season at United did not see him reach the same dizzy heights but after making a total of 45 appearances in all competitions; the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, and the League Cup – scoring just seven goals and six assists (although he had three more assists in one game at U21 level).
During the 2016/17 season, after the sacking of Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho was named the manager of the club. Memphis played just eight times in the first half of the season, scoring no goals or assists and in January 2017, he left the club for Lyon making 18 appearances, scoring five goals and eight assists, for just £16 million, possibly £22 million with add-ons, which is still a loss for the apparent ‘next best thing’.
Giels Brouwer, who works for analytics company SciSports, has revealed that Memphis enlisted his services to find the best club for him after United, seemingly looking to get his career back on track. Confirming this on Reddit, which may or may not have been the best thing to do, it was explained why this something the player utilised, saying:
“Memphis made the first laptop transfer by asking us for transfer advice with data.
“The agent asked us to visit Memphis in Manchester where he was living at that moment.
“I went there with two colleagues and we watched a Champions League game on his couch.
“In our discussion about the next step in his career, he was really open about what he wanted and didn’t want.
“He wanted to play ‘more freely’, he wanted to be ‘important for the team’ and wanted to play in a big five competition with a coach that had a clear playing style.
“We looked for instance at his playing style at PSV and the Dutch national team and compared that with the playing style of Manchester United.
“We noticed that he was involved with a lot more defensive actions at Manchester United.
“Regarding importance of the team, we looked for teams who didn’t have their star player on LW or LCF.
“For playing style, we investigated consistency, speed of passing and transition, use of flanks and defensive line, the height of the defenders.
“In the end, we wrote a report with five potential clubs that would suit his playing style and Lyon was one of them.
“Of course, it is up to the agent and the club to make a deal as our work ends there.”
Since signing for Lyon in January 2017, Memphis has made a total of 134 appearances for the club, scoring 53 goals and 43 assists. His goalscoring and assist rate is similar to what it was at PSV, despite playing ten more time in France, therefore helping the player restore his career to the same standards as it was before signing for United.
However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Memphis could exit the French club this summer as they have failed to qualify for European football for the first time in 23 years. It was a shame the player did not quite make it at United, despite some great signs of him being the next best thing the season before he first played for the Old Trafford club.
It would be safe to say that United would not be interested in resigning the player, having moved on considerably from the club they were five years ago when the Dutchman signed for Louis van Gaal’s side. He has seemingly done a lot of work to find the right club for him, which does seem a brainy thing to do. Perhaps he will do the same again?