Memphis Depay is an exciting talent who is heading to Old Trafford
With Manchester Unite’s 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace yesterday, combined with Liverpool’s failure to beat Chelsea in the teatime kickoff today – United only need a point to mathematically, despite having a far superior goal difference, qualify for next season’s Champions League. Louis van Gaal will have a full summer to plan for the 2015/16 campaign, a season that United fans will expect the club to challenge again for honours – both home an abroad. Many new faces are expected to join in the summer, but one man is already signed up and gearing for the next campaign.
United recently announced the signing of Memphis Depay for a reported £25million from PSV Eindhoven. United have some great Dutch players over the years, including Jaap Stam, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Edwin van der Sar and already have Robin van Persie (whose future still remains a doubt) and Daley Blind.
We caught up with Peter McVitie, a Scottish journalist living in the Netherlands, who has been following Depay for the past few years. Peter kindly answered a number of pressing questions we had on United’s new winger. Have a read yourself and feel free to drop Peter and additional questions we may have missed on Twitter – @Petermcvitie.
1) How would you describe Memphis Depay as a player and have Manchester United bought one of Europe’s finest young footballers?
Depay is a fast, powerful, skilful and determined young winger with great technique, a fierce shot and fantastic free-kick taking ability. At 21-years-old he has shown that he has the strength, mentality and potential to reach a very high level in his career.
2) How does Depay compare, in terms of ability, to other Dutch players who have come through the ranks over the past twenty years?
I think he’s more of an Arjen Robben-type player than anyone else who has come through. He’s lethal at times and has an abundance of quality. Like Robben, he can be a very powerful weapon for his team down the wings but can also operate as more of a threat through the middle.
3) Has this been a done deal for some time or where other clubs in the mix?
Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain showed concrete interest this year before Manchester United did. PSV director Marcel Brands said that two days before the deal with United was confirmed, Depay looked to be set to move to Paris. Van Gaal and United then decided to act quick and were able to snap him up.
4) He was on the shortlist for best player of the World Cup last summer (which Paul Pogba won) – just how important is he for the Dutch team eleven months on from Brazil?
Under Guus Hiddink the team has had a lot of changes, but Depay has only missed three games under the new coach – two of which were due to injury. Oranje have been really poor under Hiddink so far, but in their brightest game, a 2-0 win over Spain, Depay was fantastic. Very dangerous down the wing and with Jetro Willems playing behind him, he had the freedom to come inside a bit more too, just like at PSV. He’ll be crucial for the national team over the coming years, I think.
5) How do you feel he will settle into the Premier League and at Old Trafford?
Very well. But you have to remember that this is a 21-year-old who is still developing and still improving. He still has some weaknesses to his game; like his decision-making. He will need time to settle in and time to get used to the game, but physically he is ready, mentally he is ready, he just needs to adapt to it. Van Gaal, I would expect, knows him well enough and has such a strong belief in youth that he will give him that time and be patient with him.
6) He was once described as a “ball hog” – although United fans love a dribbler, has he worked on this part of his game over the past season?
He has become more of a team player in the last season. He drops back quite a lot and comes inside to retrieve the ball but he still likes storming towards goal, particularly if PSV are chasing a game, that’s when he wants to make the difference himself. However, I think that balance to his game is improving and will continue to do so.
7) He has hit 21 goals in the league this season, which is a good return for a winger. Can you ever see him moving more central as he gets older?
That all depends on the coaches he works with but he certainly has that capability, as he has shown this season at PSV. The movement of Luuk de Jong and the attacking tendencies of Jetro Willems have seen Depay flourish in a free role which saw him not only move into the centre, but drop very deep at times too. He has a totally different threat as a winger when he tries to cut in and get a run between centre-backs and full-backs, so it would be down to the style of coaches he plays with.
8) Brendan Rodgers says that Liverpool were never interested in him. Do you believe that?
No. Their interest was well documented at PSV, as was Paris Saint-Germain’s.
9) What other young Dutch talent is coming through that could well flourish in England?
This season; Georginio Wijnaldum, Jetro Willems, Jordy Clasie, Marko Vejinovic, Davy Propper. In the years after that; Davy Klaassen, Adam Maher, Terence Kongolo, Sven van Beek, Jean-Paul Boetius, Daley Sinkgraven, Riechedly Bazoer, Steven Berghuis, Nemanja Gudelj. Even in the years after that, perhaps Abdelhak Nouri, Donny van de Beek, Kevin Diks.
10) If you had the rate the top five Dutch players in your lifetime that impressed you coming through, who are they and would Depay be in that list?
I find it tough to pick my five favourites for this year, nevermind my lifetime. But Sneijder, Robben, Van der Vaart, Huntelaar and Strootman were all really impressive. Depay is one of the most impressive I have seen because I am in awe of his determination and his power. Those five players all impressed me in different ways, but Memphis has impressed me similarly to Sneijder, Huntelaar and Robben – I loved them all in the Eredivisie.