Some players, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, love the spotlight and the spotlight loves some players, like Paul Pogba. Memphis Depay falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. The 27-year-old certainly has a flair for showmanship, but his best work perhaps comes when the focus is away from him.
Since moving to Lyon from Manchester United in 2017, Depay’s performances have catapulted far ahead of the trajectory that was expected after his spell in England. He’s vindicated the expectations he built during his time in the Dutch Eridivisie, that brought a moniker of becoming the next Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fans could be forgiven for once thinking Depay wasn’t good enough. After all the £25million forward was a major flop in the Premier League. However, Depay has come a long way from his disastrous spell at Old Trafford. In 53 appearances for United, he scored seven goals in all competitions and assisted another six. For Lyon, he has 19 goals and 10 assists this season in Ligue 1 itself.
Depay’s resurgence has been astronomical in the last couple of years and he has become a regular for both club and country.
In his first full season at Lyon, Memphis netted a hattrick against Troyes, and a breathtaking injury-time winner against League leaders Paris Saint-Germain. Depay then went on a run of 10 goals and 7 assists in his first eight league games. In the 2017-18 season he was the third-highest goalscorer, behind only Edison Cavani and Florian Thauvin. He was also tied with Neymar for providing the most assists.
Depay’s increased numbers saw him eventually move towards the centre from the left-wing. His movement, first touch, and ability to play off the centre back’s shoulder have made him one of the most lethal forwards in the game. Memphis’s exploits have led, to him becoming the captain of the Lyon team.
73% – Memphis Depay 🇳🇱 is involved in 73% of Lyon's goals in Ligue 1 this season (8/11), no player has a better percentage of involvement in their team's goals in the top-flight. Hero. #OLASM pic.twitter.com/yQAUL0ZdR9
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) October 25, 2020
Depay’s resurrection has made him one of the constants since joining the Ligue 1 side. This season only Kylian Mbappe has scored more goals than the Dutchman. There is the constant flare and brassiness to his persona and style.
The comparable distinction that a footballer is often subjected to, was more so with Depay when he was in Manchester United. Lately the criticism that he received for his off the field persona, has vanished into thin air. The rumours surrounding his name are worth the substance as the forward has more than proven he deserves a second shot at the biggest stage in Europe.
Depay has been linked with Barcelona for the last couple of seasons now. The arrival of Dutchman Ronald Koeman as manager makes it seems more like a possibility with Koeman being a huge admirer and having also coached him in the Nnational team.
Koeman plays a 3-5-2 system at Barcelona. Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets play in a double pivot, alongside Jordi Alba and two central strikers. The talk around Messi’s future at the club will be highly influential in the decision to fit Depay into the system.
Memphis Depay the first player in Ligue 1 this season to have more than 10 goals and 10 assists.
Memphis is having an exceptional season! pic.twitter.com/hJ7aVcPRC3
— Dutch Football 🇳🇱 (@FootballOranje_) May 2, 2021
Over the last few weeks, there has been a cohesive partnership building between Messi and Antonio Griemann. However for the better part of his Barcelona stay, Griezmann has struggled to fit in. The addition of Depay would give Koeman further boost as the Lyon forward is capable of playing on either side of the forward line.
The superlative trust shared between Depay and Koeman will be instrumental in adding the extra sting into the Barcelona attack. Riddled by financial problems, Barcelona will need to offload if they are to get their man, but it could be the perfect signing, with Memphis patiently waiting to hit the big stage once again.
No one shone more in the Netherlands qualifying campaign for the Euros than Memphis Depay. The Dutchman reinvented himself under Ronald Koeman and has become a key player in the Orange. Memphis has transferred his club form to the national side with devastating effect.
He put in a man of the match performance as the Netherlands defeated England in the semifinal of the UEFA Nations League in 2019. Current boss Frank de Boer will hope to get the best out of his star man. The Dutch comprise a strong core in Jasper Cillesen, Virgil Van Djik, Matthijs de Ligt, Frenchie de Jong, Ryan Babel and Depay.
🇳🇱 Memphis Depay's last 33 games for club & country… 🤩
🅰️9⃣ assists pic.twitter.com/el07W4axPl
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) May 7, 2021
Alongside the experienced Babel, Memphis will look to lead the Netherlands charge at the Euros this summer. Memphis’s growth both as a player and as an individual and leader has been visible in the last couple of years, and he will be looking to govern the Orange brigade in their quest for continental success.