Netherlands’ third-place finish in Brazil was a surprise that not many saw coming. While there were plenty of standout performers, one young player, who wasn’t even supposed to be playing a lot, stood up and impressed one and all. Memphis Depay showed the world just why people in the Netherlands have been raving about him for so long. Dubbed the “right-footed Robben”, Memphis certainly showed glimpses of what he can do on the pitch. Still just 20, the Dutch winger has already made over 80 appearances for PSV Eindhoven and looks destined for greatness. Now, he is linked with Manchester United. So who is Memphis Depay? Does he have what it takes to justify all the hype surrounding him?
Born in Moordrecht in 1994, Memphis Depay started his football career at the ripe old age of 6, when joined the youth-team of his local club VV Moordrecht. After three years with the club, he joined Sparta Rotterdam’s youth team in 2003 before finally moving to PSV in 2006, where he has stayed ever since. He slowly made his way through the club’s youth system, before making his first-team debut, barely a month after his 18th birthday. Since then, he has never looked back and has gotten better with each and every season.
While his troubled childhood made for a bad disciplinary record in his youth career, his coaches knew he was a special talent and it was this that helped him fetch a regular in the PSV first-team in the last two seasons. His performance last season was particularly impressive as he scored 12 League goals and created seven more, which helped earn a spot in the Dutch national side for the World Cup. Although he had the option of choosing either Ghana or Netherlands, he went for the latter and has appeared for the Dutch in their U-15, U-16, U-17, U-19, U-21 and senior teams. He was prolific is the Dutch youth ranks, scoring 20 goals in 41 appearances and also has two senior goals to his credit.
Style of Play
Memphis Depay is a predominantly right-footed who plays as an inside-out winger on the left flank. He is skilful, tricky, can shoot from distance and also gets inside the box to support the attack and can also cross the ball effectively and create opportunities for his team-mates. In a way, he is very similar to Arjen Robben, in terms of his style of play, which relies a lot on acceleration, pace and the ability to beat his man and shoot on goal. Although he is prolific from long-range, the 20-year-old has shown that he can also play in the killer through ball, if and when necessary. Playing predominantly on the left, the Dutchman generally likes to cut inside and either shoot or pass it to his team-mate. If he isn’t cutting inside to shoot, he likes to dribble past his man and send in an accurate cross for the attackers to feast on.
One of Memphis’s biggest strengths is his long-range shooting. Although he is cannon of a right foot, he is comfortable with both feet and loves to cut inside and shoot on goal. Although his 5.1 shots per game last season, might seem like a large number, the fact that he can back up his shoot-on-sight method with goals, makes him a valuable asset. Blessed with supreme ball control and exceptional body balance, Memphis can glide thorough challenges and bamboozle the defence. Add to this his dazzling pace and stunning acceleration and you see why fans call him the “next Robben”.
Another of his under-stated strengths is his ability to induce defenders into fouling him. And while pace is an asset, it isn’t the only one as he can wreak havoc by not just running at defenders with the ball, but also by making runs in behind, without the ball. Memphis is also, something of a dead-ball specialist and has already scored some stunning goals for PSV. His style has been likened to Cristiano Ronaldo and not only can he score from set-pieces, he can also deliver a mean dead-ball, making him a complete set-piece threat. His willingness to track back and work also means that he is every full back’s dream.
Although he is great at running at defenders, one area in which he can certainly work is his ability to keep hold of the ball. His pass accuracy was just 77% last season and that is certainly something that should work on, if he wants to thrive at the highest level. His trigger-happy nature means that he can be selfish at times and he doesn’t always make the right call, in the penalty area. Although that can be attributed to a young player growing up, Memphis certainly has to be take better care of the ball and improve his decision-making if he wants to make it at the highest level for years to come.
Manchester United are currently in need of wingers, and Memphis would certainly be a great addition to the squad, that is currently lacking in quality out wide. Any potential deal however would largely depend on him being loaned back to PSV for the upcoming season. With just one full season of first-team football behind him, his PSV coach has urged him to stay on and continue his progress in his homeland, before stepping out to one of Europe’s big boys.
Still only 20, Memphis Depay has all the makings of becoming not just a world-class winger, but also a regular in the national side for a decade to come. Arguably the most talented attacker in Holland at the moment, Memphis certainly has the potential and he would just have to continue to prove himself week-in and week-out. One more season at PSV would certainly enhance his progress and make him ready for a big-money move, which looks poised to happen sooner rather than later.
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