Memphis Depay Should Free Up United
Coming from the Dutch Eredivisie to the Premier League is not always easy.
The recent decades have not provided many players who transitioned with the success of Ruud van Nistelrooy. In the case of Memphis Depay, a change may be coming. The 21 year-old is viewed as close to a traditional winger as possible. It is the combination of speed, ball control, and finishing ability that will an asset at Manchester United.
Currently United is not capable of controlling the ball high up the field with consistency.
Louis Van Gaal has recognized what is needed to succeed in the physical Premier League by moving on Depay. PSV Eindhoven has been a proving ground for the versatile forward. His play has primary been from the left wing position, but he has scored goals from the right wing and second striker positions.
That fluidity will allow Manchester United some latitude in acquiring other players in the transfer window. It also opens the exit door for any number of current United players, backing Van Gaal’s position that no one is safe.
There are several players on the Man. U roster who should be absolutely thrilled to get a reinforcement like Depay.
The strength and potential durability of Memphis Depay (he recovered from a groin injury in 4 weeks and performed as well afterward) should really allow a player like Juan Mata opportunities to open up the game creatively (which was one reason he was happy to get away from Jose). Pressure to cover play from end to end defensively should be diminished, too. Ashley Young should be smiling. Marouane Fellaini will be able to play inside of himself, and be more consistent in the midfield.
The one potential flaw with Depay comes in holding play. His movement seems to beg forward progress. Being Dutch and having worked with Van Gaal before on the Netherland’s World Cup Team, Depay can be coached through this deficit.
Some enthusiasts are announcing a Messi-like player in Depay. The Premier League doesn't really lend itself to allow that type of domination. Others are saying there is potential to match Eden Hazard. That is a lot to ask, but possible given his attributes. If he can raise his game close to that level it would be a real testimony of Van Gaal’s ability to inspire and nurture.
When Depay finally arrives at Old Trafford, it won’t be an easy transition. He will get more attention from stronger, experienced defenders. He will play against midfielders of equal prowess who have no regard for his previous successes. His 21 goals in 28 starts at PSV this year will not directly translate, not in the first year.
Reasonable expectations, given the current state of United, would be: 30 plus starts, 12 goals, and some real excitement on diagonal runs. In all honesty, just waking up the midfield of United would be nice.
Having a winger who is durable like Depay will help the Red Devils establish an identity that will keep them from struggling to finish top 4 next year.