The Eredivisie has gifted Europe with some of the greatest talents we’ve ever seen like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez and Arjen Robben, who’ve all excelled on the biggest stages in continental football since leaving the little land of Holland. But one criticism the Dutch league has come under in recent years as well as the obvious ‘the talent pool is so small it’s an easy league’, is that it’s become rather one sided. Like a monopoly in business terms, Ajax completely dominated the league, so much so there was no real point in joining any other club in the Netherlands because you were never going to win the league. That is until 2015, PSV took the league by storm and ended convincingly as champions, spearheaded by a certain heavily tattooed winger. Memphis.
Although born and bred as a Dutchman, Memphis is actually half Ghanian through his father, his father and mother split up when Depay was a toddler, and dislikes to use his last name to spite his father, hence why he wears ‘Memphis’ on the back of his shirt as apposed to Depay. He started his career at hometown club VV Moordrecht in 2000 playing until 2003 leaving aged 9 for Sparta Rotterdam, spending 3 further years there until joining PSV, going to Jong PSV, the Dutch team’s reserve team. During this time he perfected on his signature move, cutting in from the left flank onto his right foot and planting one home. PSV is renown for producing some of the game’s true great forwards such as the Brazilian Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robben and Memphis could be well on his way to adding his name to this prestigious list. Playing for Jong PSV for 5 years, he went on trial to PSV’s first team in 2011, making a handful of league and domestic cup apperences before signing his first professinal contract with the club in 2012, tying him down till 2017. 2013/14 was the breakout season for the rising star however, executing a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque finish, cutting in from the left and smashed the ball top bins for his first ever European goal, later in the season he scored another belter, curling in a beauty from outside the area in the Europa League. After an impressive campaign, Memphis was picked by Louis van Gaal in his 2014 World Cup squad and did well, getting 2 goals and an assist where the Dutch finished 3rd. In the subsequent season, Depay really lit the league alight, scoring 23 goals and collecting the golden boot and spearheaded PSV to their first league title in 7 years.
Memphis’ play style is very direct and loves to take on a defender and thrives on making the defender making the first move and drive through the defence. Used as a inverted left winger, much like Cristiano and Depay’s compatriot Robben, can run down to the byline, check back and put a cross in or have a pop at goal. Although Depay does emulate Ronaldo’s play style, being quick and skilful coupled with an ability to powerfully pile drive his way through, is a dangerous combination and would prove a handful for even the most experienced defenders. His strengths lie in his technical ability, his shot being powerful enough to make any keeper quake in their boots. And Gloves. His biggest strength however, is during a dead-ball situation, scoring 6 direct freekicks in 14/15, more than any other player in Europe and can also put in a ball for team mates, although indirect freekicks were mainly taken by Wijnaldum at PSV, Depay definitely can rival for the number 1 set piece taker at Old Trafford. Although there is a few weaknesses in Memphis’ game, such as good as he is at dribbling and taking on players, he loses the ball often and can’t keep hold of the ball as well as he should, especially considering his defensive contribution, or lack of it I should say. The Dutch media also labelled him as a ‘ballhog’, considering his shots and goal percentage to his assists. Now at Manchester United, he will play on the left wing with Di Maria presumably on the right flank and Rooney as centre forward. This could prove to be a deadly triple threat attack force and will offer United a new dimension of goal scoring, something van Gaal’s team slightly lacked last season.
Overall, I think Memphis will light up the Premier League for Manchester United and is a proper Man Utd winger, one who can take on a player and can also run to the byline and whip in a dangerous ball in. Could we be looking at a potential future Balon D’or winner?