As Memphis Depay prepares to leave PSV for Manchester United, here is an analysis of his strengths and some of his weaknesses as well as an ode to his immense talent.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
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01 depay psvIn a match PSV won 2-1 against Groningen in a less than impressive performance which put them another step closer to the Eredivisie title. Memphis Depay was at the centre of everything, driving the ball menacingly at Groningen defenders and laying on chances for his fellow attackers. He played in a looping cross from the left to Luuk De Jong at the far post who headed over from yards out as well as being the catalyst for a number of counter-attacks from the centre. However, Memphis failed to register an assist or goal to his name in this match and even though PSV won, the young Dutchman flung his arms angrily at the end of the match due to his dissatisfaction at his performance. This is the essence of Memphis Depay.

A player who knows he is far from achieving his full potential but strives to. The reason Memphis and PSV have been so successful this season is his understanding with his teammates. He understands that left-back Jetro Willems, who he has played with since U16 level in the Dutch youth teams, is an ultra-attacking fullback so Memphis will sometimes hang back and allow Willems to go past him. He developed a good understanding with De Jong which would allow Memphis to attack the central spaces while De Jong will drift out wide, especially during counter-attacks where his pace can prove indefensible for some defences.

It is imperative that at Manchester United, he is allowed to cut into the centre in order to get the best out of him. However, the play in Manchester United’s attacking phases heavily rely on wingers hugging the touchline to pull fullbacks further from the centre-backs to create spaces which Fellaini, Mata and Herrera can run into from deep. Even, though Memphis has turned heads mostly for his goals, his ability out wide cannot be understated. The burly and energetic forward is gifted with quick feet that allow him to beat his man and an ability to cross, pass or shoot. In a friendly for the Dutch National Team versus Spain, he constantly tormented Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal as the Spaniard was constantly at loss over whether Memphis would drag him to the touchline, play a pass, cross or cut in and shoot. This was influential as it lead to the Dutch’s first goal where Memphis decided to pass to Willems who played the ball into Klaassen who had his first shot saved and scored through his second attempt. In the same game, there was also a spectacular moment where he nonchalantly span away to avoid tackles from Pique, Carvajal and Pedro to the amazement of spectators.

However for the ability he does have, there is a lot he can improve on  as his decision making can let him down at times. In the Europa League knockout phase first leg for PSV against Zenit at the Phillips Stadion, a quick counter from a Zenit corner allowed to him to burst through on goal from the right to go one on one with the goalkeeper but instead of shooting, he decided to attempt a cut-back to Luciano Narsingh which was easily cleared away by an onrushing Zenit defender. In this early stages of the game, it was notable that he was focused on occupying the Zenit fullback and allowed Jetro Willems to attack the space he created and have two chances on goal (He would have to do this at Manchester United).

Memphis will go to Manchester United on the back of a very good season with PSV where he produced 25 goals and 5 assists in 26 games. However Memphis’ greatest assets are his youthful exuberance and his endless pursuit to have a lasting effect on games which will serve him well in the unrelenting Premier League. Depay takes on an average of 4 shots per game and has a dribbling ratio only bettered by FC Twente’s Jesus Corona. Memphis will bring goals and an element of zeal and guile to the Manchester United attack, especially with his long range shots as he manages to get power and accuracy into them with so little back lift and time. However, Manchester United is a breeding ground of capriciousness where wide players come to live and die and players like Angel Di Maria can attest to that.

Memphis has been instrumental in a season where PSV have celebrated their first Eredivisie title in 7 years and stepped to the fore to lead a change in generation of Dutch National Team players. However, one must remember that he is only 21 and has so much to learn before he can be compared with the likes of Arjen Robben and Cristiano Ronaldo. Memphis needs to be given time to understand Manchester United and the Premier League before he can truly begin to thrill as he has done in the past season of the Eredivisie.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)