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RED REDEMPTION

Is it time for Memphis Depay to give the Premier League another crack?

The Dutchman failed spectacularly during his brief stint at Man United, but is in the form of his life with Lyon and the Netherlands

Things are going very well for Memphis Depay at the moment.

Last time out, the Dutchman put in a show-stopping performance in Lyon’s 4-2 win over Guingamp – having a hand in all four of their goals by scoring two and setting up the other two.

It’s no wonder he spent the following morning ‘feeling like Beckham’, eh?


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But while we’re sure a few Man United fans were pleased to see their former flame bigging up the Reds ahead of last week’s Manchester derby, more will be somewhat frustrated that he’s found his feet in France after struggling so severely during his brief spell at Old Trafford.

In fact, Depay is easily one of the most in-form players in Europe’s top five leagues at the moment and has been involved in more goals than any other player in Ligue 1 so far this year.

While many of you will be scoffing at the thought of a decent player making it ‘in the farmer’s league’, you have to remember that he’s being sized up against the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Dimitri Payet, Falcao and Mario Balotelli, among others.

So having become such a resounding success in France, is it time he gave the Premier League another shot?

Ligue 1 has become Depay’s playground

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Ligue 1 has become Depay’s playground

Since joining Lyon in January 2017, Depay really has turned a corner.

Showcasing his form and fitness, the 24-year-old – yes, that’s right, he’s still only 24 – has helped the club become Ligue 1’s best-of-the-rest after PSG, as well as one of the surprise packages in Europe.

Ahead of their shock win over Man City in the Champions League back in September, Depay spoke to journalists about his attitude during his time at United – answering some of the jibes made by former captain Wayne Rooney on his behaviour while they were teammates.

He said: “It’s in the past and I’m a flamboyant guy and like nice stuff but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t be more smart. I’ve become more mature.”

But is it just a change in attitude, or is he simply flourishing in an environment where there’s less pressure?

After all, Depay joined United from PSV in 2015 with the world at his feet.

Named the “Best Young Player” in the world that year by France Football, big things were expected of him at Old Trafford.

Especially when he was handed the club’s famous No. 7 shirt – which was previously worn by club legends George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

But after netting just seven goals in 53 appearances, the Dutchman was branded as just another expensive flop.

It was clear that he needed to get out of the nuclear reactor.

His time at Old Trafford was nightmarish

CarlRecine
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His time at Old Trafford was nightmarish

Perhaps it was all a case of too much, too soon.

That’s the view of former Netherlands Under-21 boss Cor Pot, who believes the move to United happened at the wrong time.

Speaking to voetbalprimeur in a recent interview, he said: “You already saw that it was a very great talent, maybe he went to United a bit too early, and that was all too fast, he was just a basic player in Eindhoven, Lyon was a good step for Memphis. It’s fantastic now.”

“He keeps on developing himself – not only as a player, but also as a person – Memphis gets a bit calmer, does not do any crazy things anymore, but at the time he was a bit shy, of course you had that fuss with that hat extravagant behaviour. That seems a bit over now, I think he’s doing fine.”

Could a return to the Premier League be on the cards?

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Could a return to the Premier League be on the cards?

On current form, it’s even been suggested that it’s time he looked to move to a bigger club.

And having featured predominantly in the centre of attack for both club and country this season – as a support-striker or even in the more traditional No.9 role – United would certainly be interested in having him back in their line-up.

Of course, there’s rumours that they have the option to re-sign Depay already in place, having seemingly learned from their mistake of letting Paul Pogba go for virtually nothing all those years ago, only to buy him back.

But while buy-back options – or “first-option clauses” – aren’t available in Ligue 1, it’s presumed that the club will be at the front of the queue – or will at least have a first-refusal arrangement in place – if they fancy giving him another crack.

On current form, he’d certainly be worth the gamble.


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