Memphis Depay arrived at Manchester United as one of the brightest young prospects in world football. Having notched 22 goals for Eredivisie champions PSV Eindhoven in the 2014/15 season, the Dutchman struggled to make an impact at Old Trafford under Louis van Gaal, and had fallen out of the manager’s plans so wildly by the end of the season that he didn’t even make the squad for the FA Cup final.
It wasn’t tough to see why. Yes, Van Gaal knew of Memphis’ skills, and his record of enjoying working with young players is famous but the prescriptive, low-risk football that the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss forced his United team to play left no margin for error, and demanded plenty of work off the ball. In that last sense, it’s perhaps no surprise that Jesse Lingard took his place in the side around the new year, and never really gave it up.
Jose Mourinho is well aware of Memphis’ troubles last season, however, and judging by quotes from The Mirror, the Portuguese appears keen to point out that there is a place for the £100,000-a-week Dutchman.
“I don’t want to go into last season too much, but I know the player I’ve watched at PSV and the World Cup two years ago when he was a very young kid.
“Having that player in mind, I want to keep him. And I believe in him, yes. Especially as I see a good boy, a good kid, a good professional.”
“You can see him driving a nice car and you think this guy is not thinking about football, but that is not the case. He is frustrated with what happened last season, where he lost all confidence. But he will be back.”
This must be music to the young Dutchman’s ears. Whilst he notched goals in 45 appearances last term, his good performances were few and far between, and frequently came against less accomplished opposition like Club Brugges and FC Midtjylland. His two goals in the Premier League suggests that he hasn’t quite gotten to grips with the demands of this level yet, and with competition for places at United increasing all of the time, Memphis will need to make the most of the opportunities that come his way. In that sense, the commencement of the Europa League group stages next month could be hugely beneficial for Memphis, provided he approaches the games with the right attitude.