Memphis Depay and fitting in at Manchester United

Manchester United fans have every right to be excited after yesterday’s announcement that the club have signed Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven.

The Netherlands international is widely acknowledged as one of the most promising young stars in European football, with Louis van Gaal’s men surely beating a host of other top teams to his signature.

The standout star in a generation of youth-team graduates at the Philips Stadion, Depay and his fresh-faced team-mates have played some scintillating football this season to lift the Eredivisie title.

The 22-year-old burst onto the scene back in 2011-12 but spent his first two campaigns in senior football largely watching on from the sidelines, displaying his potential with an occasional late cameo.

Last season was the attacker’s breakthrough campaign, with Depay contributing 12 goals from midfield in PSV’s improved showing.

This season the Moordrecht-born starlet has been in irresistible form, carving opposition defences to ribbons and inspiring his team to a comprehensive title success.

Depay’s relationship with Van Gaal from their time together at national level is strong, with the young attacker given a chance to play at the World Cup due to the current United manager’s trust.

This bond will have been a deciding factor in bringing the 22-year-old to Old Trafford, while the Dutch coach will play a crucial role in the talented forward’s continued development.

Memphis DepayMany have called Depay ‘the Dutch Ronaldo’ and it is clear that he possesses all the attributes to be a real star in the Premier League.

Breathtaking speed, an eye for goal and superb trickery will see the Dutchman terrorise opposition defences, but Depay has further development to undergo if he is to become the real deal.

The individual talent has netted an incredible 21 goals from attacking midfield this season, an Eredivisie-high, with his presence clearly making the Old Trafford outfit a more dangerous animal.

United will hope that the Netherlands international can replicate his goalscoring exploits he has shone in his homeland, but there will be a significant step-up in the quality of opposition in England.

Despite PSV scoring a whopping 87 goals in 32 games this term, Depay has only contributed four assists throughout the campaign.

Similar to Ronaldo when he arrived at the Manchester club all those years ago, the wideman’s delivery and final product will need to improve if he is to live up to his billing.

Although more new faces are expected to arrive at Old Trafford this summer, concocting a formation that will get the most out of Depay’s considerable talents will be a priority for Van Gaal.

The former Barcelona trainer has switched between a 3-4-1-2 and 4-1-4-1 set-up this term, with where Depay fits in remaining to be seen.

The most natural role seems to be on a wing, which would see United benefit from his speed and dribbling ability, but potentially lose-out on his goalscoring tendencies.

At PSV Depay has not had many defensive responsibilities due to Phillip Cocu playing a three-man central midfield, but this will not be the case in Manchester.

If the new arrival is to be deployed on a flank, he will need to get used to tracking back and helping out his full-back also.

There is also a case for Depay to be used as a number ten or in a withdrawn central attacking position, which would give him more of a licence to drift into space and harness his individualism.

However, with Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Ángel Di María and others also staking a claim for this role, there is stern competition.

The start of next season will continue to be a transitional time for Van Gaal and United, with new signings needing to be given time to settle.

However, despite it being a step-up for Depay, United’s latest signing is an exciting one that has the potential to fire them back into silverware contention.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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