OPINION: Memphis Depay Can Add Deadly Quality to Man Utd’s Attack, But Will Have to Earn His Place

After a string of impressive performances in the Dutch league, Memphis Depay caught the eye of a host of European superpowers. Depay has impressed not only when playing in his natural position as an attacking winger, but also when playing through the center. He totalled an astonishing 28 goals from 39 games this season for PSV Eindhoven. For somebody not playing as a striker, this is a remarkable statistic.

Memphis Depay – a strong two-footed player – has the ability to cut inside and produce a good shot from distance. This trait has earned him comparisons to Dutch star Arjen Robben. Apart from finding the net, Depay is also a prolific provider, as reflected by the 59 chances he created for PSV this season. Due to a strong sense of balance, Depay is hard to tackle when on the ball. He has also bamboozled opposition fullbacks with his trickery and skill.

Numerous times, Depay has lured defenders into committing fouls outside the penalty area, from where he tends to show off another skill he possesses. He has scored more goals from dead ball situations than anyone else across all European major leagues this season, earning him comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo. Many of his long range efforts in open play bear fruit too. 6 of his 28 goals have come from outside the penalty area. Depay is also a hard working player off the ball. Often he has forced mistakes from defenders due to relentless pressing. Quick to capitalize on these mistakes, he is lethal with the ball in the opposition final third.

Manchester United had to fend off interest from Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain to grab the Dutch winger, buying him for a staggering 25 million euros. United fans all over the world see this transfer as an ‘investment’. As Van Gaal said earlier this month, “Depay is a player with great potential”. Depay is a positive signing for Manchester United, simply because he fits into their game perfectly. With his pace and acceleration, he is a boon to a team like United who are dangerous on the break. Depay is blessed with excellent ball control, which will help him at United, taking into account that United are the second most prolific and accurate “long ball” team in the whole of Europe (44.2 per game).

Memphis Depay’s dead ball specialities and his ability to earn free kicks in dangerous areas will come in handy in the EPL. Since United have missed a consistent scorer from free kicks after Ronaldo left for the Bernabeu, Depay is nothing less than a boon. His ability to pressurize opponents when he is off the ball will be crucial in the Premier League.

What Depay might find difficult is adapting to the highly competitive English playing conditions. Playing in the Dutch league and playing in the Premier league are two very different challenges. English top division football is significantly more competitive, with harder opponents and much better defenders than those of the Dutch league. Depay will have to up his game in order to replicate the success he enjoyed in Holland. For a start, he will have to adapt his game to what Louis van Gaal demands from him.

Having worked with Van Gaal before will benefit Depay at United. Player-manager rapport plays heavily on the player’s mind. The fact that Van Gaal shares a terrific relationship with Depay can only benefit the youngster and the side as well. Having hailed Van Gaal as the best manager in the world, Depay’s respect for him is evident. Should Van Gaal show faith in Depay, it will fill the youngster with confidence and provide him with enough incentive to give his best on the field. With stiff competition on the left flank in Ashley Young and Angel di Maria, Depay will have to earn his place in the starting 11. This will only serve to improve him in his quest to become a world-class player for a world-beating team.