To the condemnation of many, Memphis Depay has been vocal about wanting a move to a bigger club in the summer. On Wednesday the winger gets a chance to prove himself and impress potential suitors when Lyon travels to Barcelona in Champions League.

  • By Michael Bell
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Back in January, Memphis was interviewed by Dutch magazine Helden and was very open about his desire to have another crack at playing at a big club.

The forward spent two frustrating years with Manchester United, where he was unable to showcase his talents and was condemned by the clubs fans and British media before leaving for Lyon in 2017.

Memphis has been in France for two years but is now setting his sights higher, “I want to go to a club like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich.

“I want to go to a city that suits me and a club that suits me, to a team that really wants to play football.”

Nobody can doubt the 25-year-old’s ambition or ability to play at such clubs but the issue that many people have had with his comments is that Depay’s form and consistency hasn’t been good enough in recent months to warrant interest from Europe’s best.

In 2018, Memphis was on fire! In his new central position, he inspired Lyon to the Champions League at the end of last season and he was the focal point of Ronald Koeman’s revitalised Oranje as Netherlands defeated Germany and France on the way to topping their UEFA Nations League group.

On the 10th of November, a red-hot Memphis scored twice and provided two assists in a 4-2 win over Guingamp. At that point, he was one of the most admired forwards around Europe.

However, a severe drought in front of goal then set in and his form dipped rapidly heading into the new year, leading to constant criticism in the French press and from Lyon fans, who grew tired of his perceived arrogance and lack of focus. His music releases and that interview with Helden in the middle of his slump didn’t help matters.

A 2-0 defeat to Monaco at the end of February was the 13th league game in a row that Memphis had failed to score. In the second half, he missed a penalty that could have started a comeback and after the loss, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas sent a thinly veiled dig on Twitter that was clearly aimed at the Dutchman, “This match shows us all the way to go to achieve all our goals. Some players are far below their potential. Those who think they can make big transfers at the end of the year are wrong, they must talk less and give much more.”

Lyon boss Bruno Genesio kept faith with Memphis, though, and three days after the defeat in Monaco, he finally found the net again with a deflected free-kick against Caen to the relief of everyone at the club. He followed it up with an impressive goal and performance in a 5-1 win over Toulouse and the signs are he is finally over his slump.

Now Memphis has the perfect opportunity to prove his doubters wrong when Lyon travel to Barcelona in the Champions League looking to book their place in the last eight. He was unable to make an impact in the first-leg 0-0 draw but heads to the Nou Camp fresh, having been rested at the weekend, and on the back of two goals in two games.

Memphis talks about Barcelona and the Champions League being the level he should be playing at but he now needs to let his feet and actions do the talking for him. Nobody expects Lyon to progress against Barcelona, but it could be a massive game for Memphis and his future.

This week, Aulas told Telefoot that he was open to the Dutchman leaving in the summer, “We will only let one player go from those solicited. I do not know which one because there are many who have been solicited. It will take a big, big effort to try to convince Nabil (Fekir), our world champion from the academy, to stay when he was almost sure he could go.

“We made a big effort to convince Nabil who is our world champion, when he was announced on the start. I’ll be honest, it’s easier for us to let go of Depay for example.”

Memphis now has three months to convince big clubs that he is worthy of a shot. A big performance on Wednesday could set him back on a path back to the top.

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