Memphis Depay – The next Robben or Ronaldo?
Yesterday both Manchester United and the player confirmed that Memphis Depay will become a Manchester United player this summer subject to a medical. The fee for the young Dutch winger is believed to be about £25 million. It will be the player’s first move and the early signs would suggest many United fans will hope that remains the case for many years to come.
He made his official debut on the 21st of September 2011. So he has been around the first team for just under four years. In that time he has become the main man at PSV as they marched to their first title since 2008. Coming in from the left hand side he managed an impressive 21 goals in 28 games.
Of course the Dutch league is not as high of standard as the English Premier League but when you considered combined Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Rademal Falcao only have 26 goals between them you cannot help but get excited about the clubs latest addition.
So what kind of player is Depay? From what I have seen of him in the Dutch league, I must say I am very impressed. Like Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben and Manchester United winger Ashley Young he is a winger who plays on the wing of his weaker foot. This means cutting inside and shooting from distance is a large part of his game. Thankfully I am very glad to say he is able to shoot with great effect from distance. A quality United have lacked since the departures of Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo. Like Ronaldo in his younger days he does sometimes overdo it on the wing with tricks and flicks trying to go down his left hand side, but I do feel this will come with time.
The player he reminds me of the most is Robben. The Ronaldo reference comes in terms of his confidence levels. This is something I believe all great teams need. Would Manchester United have achieved what they achieved without the cockiness that both Ronaldo and Eric Cantona processed? I remember listening to sky sports during the week and they talked about how when the main players at clubs press the opposition it makes the rest of the team raise their standards. This was in reference to Alexis Sanchez and Luis Suarez. I believe this applies to confidence too. If you have a player in a side that always has belief it will have a positive effect on his teammates. I can say with great belief, Depay will not shy away from taking players on, even if he has a few bad games.
Depay is quick, direct, he has pace to burn and has more tricks than Dynamo. Not to mention his amazing goal scoring record from free kicks this season. Five goals directly from free kicks is impressive no matter where you go.
My only concern can be summed up in three words. Angel Di Maria. Like Depay, Di Maria has pace, he is direct and is decent from dead ball situations. But both Di Maria & Depay’s greatest strength is their ability to beat the defender. So why doesn’t Di Maria run at defenders the same way he did last season for Real Madrid? The answer is simple, Louis Van Gaal is near obsessed with possession. So why will Depay fair any different in this system?
Another potential worry is often when players come from abroad they struggle to adapt to a new culture, league and in this case system. Depay has had a somewhat free role at PSV in recent months. That will not be the case at United. So for me the worry is not whether Depay will adapt to the Premier league but whether Louis Van Gaal will play to his strengths?
Maybe it will be different for Depay as we know for sure that he is an LVG signing, which is not the case with both Falcao and Di Maria. If Depay is allowed to blossom like Robben then we have a real star on our hands. If he is suppressed in a system that doesn’t suit him like Di Maria then his future may not be so bright?
I guess it is something only time will tell.
By Diarmuid Gillingham