It was the night of Champions League football in Manchester, 18th of August 2015. Manchester United had just won on their return to European football after a year out. Club Brugge of Belgium had just been beaten 3-1 at Old Trafford. A certain Memphis Depay stole the latest Premier League lines and indeed the show with two fantastic goals and an assist. Many believe was the night Memphis announced his arrival into the top level of European football.
In the 14 months prior to that night, he scored two goals in the World Cup finals in Brazil, won Eridevisle with PSV, finished top scorer and sealed a £23 million move to Manchester United. Rio Ferdinand said that night that, ‘Memphis would be a YouTube sensation and a hero for the kids’ Memphis has stamped his authority.
Fast forward 4 months from there. 2 league goals and 1 Champions League goal later, he’s struggling to find any form and struggling to break into the first team. Now, there’s a new kid in the block, a new hero for the kids and the social networking world. A humble, young lad from France who went by the name of Anthony Martial.
Unlike Memphis, Martial’s got no fancy haircut, flashy hair colours or iron-clad tattoos, but, just like Memphis, he’s got a lot of footballing quality I’m store. One of them likes the media, the other likes to stay at home, one of them got a PR agent who’s telling the world about his clients’ whereabouts, the other tells the media that he stays at home and eats his mum’s food. Everyone knows who’s who here.
The two have a lot of differences, and that is shown in their current form. Martial was signed from low-profile Monaco for a high-profile transfer fee with reverberated around the football world. And he’s done fantastically well under all the pressure. He’s scored 8 times in all competitions this season, despite playing in his lesser preferred position of the left flank. Despite the media attention that comes with signing for a club as big as Manchester United, he’s managed to keep his feet on the ground and has proven to be, arguably, United’s best player this season.
He’s taken the league by storm, he’s confident, calm, fearless and extremely committed. He is now the player the kids want to be. Martial is going to be a Ballon d’Or contender for sure in the future. He’s going to carry France and Manchester United. And when, inevitably, a Barcelona or a Real Madrid or a Bayern Munich come calling, he’s going to chase a world record fee. Hopefully he makes the right call there.
Memphis Depay needs to get his act back together. He’s got the most famous shirt number in Manchester United’s long history. He knows he has the backing of the fans, his teammates and his manager. He needs to stop with his super car purchases and his Harry Potter-esque hat purchases and get back on the training ground. Cristiano Ronaldo had a similar story, but he worked his way to the top. Memphis needs to follow him! He, and the other United youngsters as well, need to to look up to players like Martial.