After a stunning start, Memphis Depay is now Barcelona’s star attraction and is becoming Holland’s go-to man… his disastrous 18-month stint at Manchester United is very much a distant memory
- Memphis Depay broke a new record for the Holland national team this week
- He has scored 12 goals for Holland in 2021, equalling Patrick Kluivert’s year tally
- The 27-year-old has also started the season in top form with new club Barcelona
- His torrid 18-month stint at Manchester United is now long in the memory
- Depay’s time at Lyon revitalised his career and he is now showing his potential
Off to a flier already at Barcelona, Memphis Depay has continued his meteoric rise and sparkling form for Holland – and shows no signs of stopping.
The 27-year-old, now working for his country under his former boss at Manchester United, Louis van Gaal, scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 thrashing of Turkey last Tuesday night, matching an Oranje record in the process.
With 12 goals in 2021, he is level with Patrick Kluivert’s yearly tally from 2000, overtaking Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s 11 strikes in 2010.
Memphis Depay has continued his brilliant start to the season for Holland in the past week
The 27-year-old striker is now level with Patrick Kluivert’s annual tally of 12 goals for Holland
Even better, Holland have four more matches left this year – against Latvia, Gibraltar, Montenegro and Norway – and in his current form, Depay will almost certainly be out on his own come Christmas.
For Barcelona, he registered an assist on his LaLiga debut before scoring two in two against Athletic Bilbao and Getafe, as he attempts to fill a Lionel Messi-shaped void at the Nou Camp under Ronald Koeman.
Seven goals in six games for club and country at the start of the this campaign is a terrific start, with the weight of expectation firmly on his shoulders again as a leading light at a European hegemon.
Depay has started life at Barcelona brightly too, scoring two goals in three LaLiga matches
It is quite the career turnaround, from the doom and gloom which characterised his torrid 18-month stint at Manchester United.
Signed by Van Gaal in 2015 from PSV Eindhoven and handed the No 7 shirt at the age of just 21, Depay struggled to make an impact at Old Trafford.
He scored just seven goals in 53 appearances for the club and was completely frozen out by Jose Mourinho 18 months later.
Mourinho spoke as recently as June as to why he believed Depay failed at United, describing him as ‘childish.’
Depay endured a difficult relationship with former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho
‘Sometimes they can go too early to the biggest clubs where they are not ready to cope with it. Where they are not ready to understand that in the biggest clubs there are internal competition, that you can not play all the time. That there are fantastic players to fight with you for a position.
‘They can lose a little sense of reality and become a bit childish. Which is what happened.’
The man himself has acknowledged his difficulties in Manchester but insists he was never given a proper chance under Mourinho.
‘The first season I had to adapt and it didn’t go well compared to my time at PSV,’ he said.
‘I lost a bit of confidence and I lost the confidence of [Louis] Van Gaal and his staff. It was hard for me. The following season I felt like I had more experience, but they changed the coach.
DEPAY SINCE MAN UNITED
2016-2017: 18 apps, 5 goals
2017-18: 51 apps, 22 goals
2018-19: 47 apps, 12 goals
2019-20: 22 apps, 15 goals
2020-21: 40 apps, 22 goals
2021-current: 3 apps, 2 goals
44 caps, 38 goals
‘Jose Mourinho came and I fought to get into the team but I think the idea of giving me a chance was never in his head. He never gave me an opportunity. Never.
‘I went to his office but it changed nothing. It was a very difficult period… I realised that I didn’t want to be in a big club without playing.’
And so United cut their losses and sold Depay to Lyon for £17m in January 2017, including a buy-back clause which they’ve opted not to activate since.
But it was in Ligue 1 where the Dutchman rediscovered his creative touch and, over the course of four-and-a-half seasons, he flourished at the Groupama Stadium.
He won the Goal of the Year award in Ligue 1 in his opening months at the club after a phenomenal 50-yard lob against Toulouse from just inside his own half.
His confidence was back. So much so that he even launched his own hip-hop career in the summer of 2017, with his first album – Heavy Stepper – arriving last November.
On the pitch, though trophies failed to materialise at Lyon, Depay’s goalscoring figures – as he converged more towards a No 9 position as opposed to an out-and-out winger – were remarkably consistent.
Depay flourished during four-and-a-half years at Lyon, with last season his joint-best for goals
Last season, he matched his best ever scoring season of 2017-18 with 22 goals in all competitions, but in 11 fewer appearances.
But Depay always had his radar set on a return to one of Europe’s top clubs. As he let his contract run down and was hosted with a host of top clubs the only question was who, not when.
This summer, despite enwrapped in financial trouble, Barcelona took the plunge, signing the Holland striker on a two-year contract.
Has he learned from his chastening experience in the Premier League? As Barca’s main man now, he must step up to the plate for Koeman this season.
Depay earned his move to Barcelona, signing a two-year deal at the Nou Camp this summer
He is also back working with managers he knows well: Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman
As what can happen in the small world that is European football, he is now back working with arguably the two most influential managers of his career.
Van Gaal gave him his break at United and is now back in charge of Holland for a third time, while Koeman oversaw his development with the national team for three years, where he has scored an impressive 38 goals in 44 caps since 2017.
Depay is now firing on all cylinders and has started this season in terrific fashion. He is one of Europe’s most lethal strikers. Bayern Munich had better watch out on Tuesday.
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