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The Curious Case of Memphis Depay

Writer Chris Weir takes a look at Memphis Depay’s time at Manchester United so far and assess what’s gone wrong for the Dutchman at Old Trafford so far.


The date is 10th July 2015, and Memphis Depay is fielding questions from the press after being officially unveiled as a Manchester United player.  The  21-year-old is asked whether he can make an impact similar to one of the club’s most recent icons.

“I don’t want to say I can be like somebody like that, but I think I can excite the fans.”

The player in question was Cristiano Ronaldo and, at the time, it seemed a fair comparison. Memphis had a prodigious reputation as one of the hottest talents on the continent, and had been the top-scorer and standout player in a PSV team that cantered to the Eredivisie in 2014/15. Fans salivated at the prospect of a player who had reportedly turned down the advances of PSG to join the red half of Manchester.

At the time of writing, however, Memphis’ impact has been closer to Bébé than Ballon D’Or.  On Saturday, he started on the bench as a feeble United side went down 2-1 to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, replacing Jesse Lingard on the hour mark.

So, what has gone wrong for the Dutchman?

The early signs were encouraging to say the least. August brought a man of the match performance against Club Brugge in the Champions League, as well as two beautiful goals as United cruised to a comfortable 3-1 win.

Since then, however, the Moordrecht native has flattered to deceive, and reached a nadir by giving the ball away for Chelsea’s late equaliser at Stamford Bridge. Louis van Gaal responded by demoting him to the u-21s for the recent game against Norwich, saying that doing so would ‘help his confidence’.

As well as his inconsistent performances, there have been concerns that Depay’s focus off the pitch hasn’t always been what it should. As told by in the press, he was advised to tone down his lifestyle by assistant manager Ryan Giggs after partying it up on the same night United were schooled 3-0 by a rampant Arsenal back in October.

Despite this, however, it is far too soon to write off the Dutchman’s chances of making an impact at United.  At 22 time is still on his side, and fluctuating form is something to be expected from a young player regardless of their price tag.

Memphis may also take heart from the case of Neymar , who struggled to adapt to La Liga in his first season with Barça before blossoming in his second year.  There is nothing to stop Depay making a similar impact at United once he adapts fully to the rigors of life in the EPL. The rumoured arrival of Jose Mourinho in the summer, a manager famed for his motivational skills as well as ruling with an iron fist , could also prove crucial in adding focus and consistency to his obvious array of skills.

When it comes to the curious case of Memphis Depay, patience could be a virtue for United fans. With a little time, he could yet join Robson, Best and Ronaldo as one of Manchester’s greatest number 7’s.  This is one Dutchman that still has the potential to fly.

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