Memphis Depay is the first person to note his spell at Manchester United was less than pleasing. It was not the “dream” £25m move the Dutchman had hoped it would be when he signed on the dotted line in 2015 aged 21.
Within 18 months, he had already agreed to move on after scoring just seven goals in 53 matches. Depay confirmed in following years he felt out of sorts at United, saying: “My performances at United were not even close to what I am capable of.
“When you look beyond my excuses, only one conclusion is left over: I lost myself and I lost God. So there is only one person to blame: that’s me and nobody else.”
It’s an honourable admission and perhaps shows the character-building journey he’s been on since his Old Trafford exit. The 28-year-old revitalised his career at next club Lyon, netting 76 times in 178 outings, eventually becoming captain.
He led them to a 2020 Champions League semi-final after a shock quarter-final victory over Manchester City before losing on spot kicks to Paris Saint-Germain in the French League Cup final four months later.
He didn’t win a trophy with Lyon but his performances earned him a move to Barcelona the following summer. Numerous injuries have stunted his progression at the Nou Camp yet he has still managed more than a goal every three games, with 14 in 41 appearances.
He’s started 29 of those but has been played on the left wing a number of times – it’s a position he thrived in earlier in his career but as age grows, pace declines and towards the end of his time with Lyon he was almost exclusively used as a central forward.
At boyhood club PSV, where he won the 2014/15 title as he finished as the Eredivisie’s top scorer, he was indeed seen as a left winger. However, he was allowed free roam in the attacking third.
s a result, he ended up with 50 goals in 124 matches. This freedom was restricted by his former United manager Louis van Gaal, who was his Netherlands’ head coach at the 2022 World Cup.
“At United I got confused. I knew I couldn’t get the best out of my play this way: staying on the left side of the field, running back and forth,” Depayexplained in his 2019 book, Heart Of A Lion.
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