PROFILE: The 21-year-old has reaped the benefits of another year in the Eredivisie and has all the tools to be a success at Old Trafford
By Peter McVitie
Judging whether a player is ready to move on from the Eredivisie to one of the world’s top leagues can be a difficult equation to solve.
For every success story – Christian Eriksen, Luis Suarez and Arjen Robben have all successfully made the transition in recent years – there are notable flops, with Mateja Kezman and Afonso Alves two such men who struggled outside Holland.
On Thursday, Manchester United sealed a move for one of the brightest prospects to emerge from the Eredivisie for a long time in Memphis Depay.
The 21-year-old is still a raw talent after just two seasons in the first team at PSV, but there is little doubt the attacker is ready for a new challenge in his career as he prepares to complete a reported €27.5 million move to the Premier League.
While the winger is not yet the finished article, he is blessed with pace, skill, a ferocious shot and incredible determination – tools which give him every chance of becoming a success in England.
His main weakness is deciding whether to pass to a team-mate or fire towards goal from distance. In each of the last two seasons he has had more shots than any other player in the Dutch top flight.
However, he does not always do it at the correct time, often blasting over the bar when there is a team-mate in a better position. That said, he has always shown the character to seize responsibility and make the difference for PSV.
It is a part of his game that will both impress and infuriate fans at Old Trafford, but it is also an admirable part of Depay’s game that United boss Louis van Gaal will bid to nurture.
“I’m a dream chaser. When I look in the mirror, I get motivated because I know I’m not yet where I can be,” he said in an interview with Adidas, which sums up his ambitious nature.
After impressing for Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup, Depay immediately began to attract a great deal of attention, with the Old Trafford club the favourites to sign him last summer.
He instead opted to stay in Eindhoven and become a champion with an incredibly bright and talented young side. With 21 goals and four assists in 28 league games, he played an integral role in Phillip Cocu’s men winning a first Eredivisie crown in seven years.
Depay has made big strides forward in his development because of the extra responsibility he has been given this term. Left-back Jetro Willems has operated more as a left winger, allowing him the space and time to come inside and run at opposition centre-backs.
Crucially, he can also operate as an orthodox winger and stay out wide, while his ability from free-kicks will give United another weapon in the final third.
He has scored six goals from 29 dead ball situations in the league this season, at a better scoring rate than Lionel Messi (two from 35) and Cristiano Ronaldo (one from 29).
A reunion with Van Gaal and joining a club famed for giving young talent the chance to develop makes Old Trafford the perfect destination for Depay to take the next step in his career.
United fans will hope he follows in the footsteps of Jaap Stam and Ruud van Nistelrooy in trading PSV for the Theatre of Dreams and becoming another Eredivisie success story in the Premier League.
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