Ronald Koeman has spoken about his desire to sign Memphis Depay again this week. The two know each other well from their time at the Dutch national team. But is he the answer to Barça’s issues up top?
Memphis Depay has started the season well for Olympique Lyonnais. In the seven appearances so far, the 26-year-old has four goals and three assists. There is no question about his talent; he is a player who can play across the frontline, and with very high prowess, too. He offers the team a lot and can both score and create goals. For the Netherlands, too, the 26-year-old was one of the main players in the squad and was favoured by Koeman. However, he does have some consistency issues and has not always succeeded at other clubs.
Memphis Depay came through the academy at PSV Eindhoven after joining from Sparta Youth in 2006. He made his first-team debut for PSV in 2011 in a season where he made eight appearances, all coming from the bench. His importance in the team gradually grew, and he would establish himself as a key figure in the team.
After an impressive World Cup in 2014, several top teams in Europe were interested in the young winger. However, Depay ended up staying in the Netherlands for one more season, finishing as the top scorer en route a league title. He would leave PSV with 50 goals and 29 assists in 124 appearances for the club.
After that incredible season, Manchester United led the chase for his signature, and eventually got their man. His time at United, however, was underwhelming with the Dutchman struggling to adapt to the Premier League. In his two seasons at the club, Depay played 53 times, scoring a mere seven goals and assisting six times. It is not clear why his time in Manchester was unsuccessful, but he looked inspired to move on, and resurrect his career and reputation.
Depay looked uncomfortable, and far from his best at United. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Since then, Depay has managed to restart his career becoming the most important player in the Olympique Lyonnais team. He has been an integral part of the team for several seasons and has assisted almost as many as he has scored. It shows that Depay can create goals and score them. As we saw in the Champions League last season, he is certainly pleasing to watch and brings a lot to the game. However, he has struggled with consistency, often failing to find consistent ground through the course of a season.
Where would he fit in Barça’s system?
It is no secret that Barcelona are in desperate need of a centre forward. The club are relying on others to fill the role for the time being. That will not always work, though, as we saw against Sevilla and Getafe, who highlighted that Barcelona will struggle without a clinical finisher in front of goal.
Memphis Depay is versatile and can play anywhere in the attacking line-up. He has predominately played as a left-winger and as a striker. According to Transfermarkt, Depay has played 222 times on the left-hand side, and 48 times through the middle, mostly from his time in France.
Depay’s transfer looks inevitable at this point. (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP via Getty Images)
Depay would join the Blaugrana as a centre-forward as he has played for Lyon and the Netherlands over the last two seasons. As a striker for Les Gones, Memphis has played there 47 times, scoring 19 goals and assisting 16 times. Though he is not necessarily a clinical striker, it shows he works for the team and allows others to score too.
Should Barça sign Memphis Depay?
There are arguments for and against the signing of Depay from Lyon. He does possess a lot of talent, pace, and can score and create goals for the team. The former PSV star can take defenders on and open defences, something Barcelona struggle with. Memphis is a creator too, and could help bring the best out of others such as Antoine Griezmann. He has a great relationship with Koeman too and understands his system. During their time with the Netherlands National Team, Depay was a key part of the team and performed well.
“I don’t have the power to sign Depay, it depends on the club. All I can do is wait. We wanted Memphis because he is a great player and has qualities that, in my opinion, we lack like depth in our attack.”Ronald Koeman during club press-conference
Another reason as to why the Dutchman could be a good signing is his affordability. The board have left the club with almost no money to spend in the transfer windows. With Depay’s contract expiring in June 2021, Barcelona could get him for a cut priced deal in January.
The world knows of the Depay-Koeman connection. (Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP)
In contrast, there are uncertainties over this potential signing. Failure at Manchester United raise questions upon his credibility at the top-most level, especially in Europe. Additionally, inconsistent performances and injury problems are other issues with his signing.
Most importantly, though, Memphis Depay is not a natural number nine, in that he has played far more as a left-winger. He is not a clinical goal scorer either, which is what the club needs. There are already plenty of creative players such as Messi, Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann, Pedri, who will start for Barça week-in, week-out. Barcelona need someone to score goals consistently, which Depay lacks – at the moment, anyway.
However, with the club desperately needing someone to play in the striker position, and having limited funds, Lyon’s captain could be the answer, even if it means in the short-term. Alternatively, the club could try and sell players in January to raise funds for an out-and-out striker, but this is a far-fetched option as it stands.
Three potential loan destinations for Riqui Puig
Barça Universal takes a closer look at three clubs who could latch-up fan-favourite Riqui Puig on loan this January as the youngster is in the hunt for more playing time.
For all the numerous rapid changes taking place in the world, there seems to be the one constant: Riqui Puig just can’t manage to get minutes under his belt. For all the hype built around the talented prodigy at the back end of last season, Ronald Koeman seems reluctant to budge.
Before the commencement of the season, the Dutchman asked Puig to go out on loan to get as many minutes of game time as possible. The youngster blatantly refused, confident that he would indeed get his chance to impress. Yet, more than two months into the season and the 21-year-old has only seen 11 minutes of action.
Undoubtedly, he is at the age where he needs continuous playing time to grow and develop as a footballer. There is a growing sentiment that going out on loan to continue playing and developing remains the best bet for Puig. Losing his permanently, though, would be a huge mistake. Barça Universal takes a look at three potential teams the youngster could go to in order to earn some much-needed playing time under his belt.
Nine games into the season and Unai Emery’s men find themselves trailing league leaders Real Sociedad just by the two points. Sitting proudly at second, the yellow submarines have had just the one loss so far, which came against Barcelona.
A glance at the Villareal midfield, however, provides interesting findings. Undoubtedly, Dani Parejo has been the leader in the middle of the park. Samuel Chukwueze, Gerard Moreno and Moi Gomes being the go-to options at wide midfield.
The chance to learn from Dani Parejo will be massive for Puig. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
However, apart from the 29-year-old duo Francis Coquelin and Manu Trigueros, the options seem feeble. On the occasions when Vincente Iborra has played, the team has operated in a 4-1-4-1. This too opens up another spot for a creative midfielder.
Though Villareal has averaged close to 60% possession this season, they have only scored ten goals from open play in nice games. With just over two big chances created per game, there is a need for a midfielder who can break the lines, yet fit into the plans Emery has for the club.
The midfield as a unit has failed to conjure up opportunities, reflected by the fact that the captain Mario Gaspar has created the most ‘big chances’ while playing out from the right-back position.
Riqui Puig could fill the holes in Unai Emery’s side. The youngster could comfortably slot into a role alongside Parejo and replace the likes of Coquelin or Trigueros. His high press and comfort on the ball make him an ideal candidate for the Yellow Submarines.
Additionally, Barcelona stands to gain too, with the player staying in the Spanish first division and gaining invaluable minutes. It would be a deal that works out well for the player too, as he would avoid the hassle of moving to a new country. Could this be a win-win?
Bayer 04 Leverkusen
The Leverkusen based side sit at fourth in the Bundesliga and are currently among the handful of unbeaten sides in the top five leagues. They play a similar style of possession-based, football, powered by swift attacks, much like Luis Enrique’s Barcelona. They play a very organized game in possession, with meaningful forward progression of the ball given paramount importance.
Peter Bosz’s fluid attacking style of football will easily accommodate Puig, even if the language barrier is problematic. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Peter Bosz has exclusively fielded a 4-1-4-1 in the Bundesliga, but the 4-2-3-1 has come into the equation for the Europa League fixtures. The team aim to capitalise on short central passes by establishing a numerical superiority in the midfield and the halfspaces. Leverkusen requires its players to be tactically well versed with tremendous composure on the ball; something Puig possesses in spades.
Bosz has had to rotate among Florian Wirtz, Kerem Demirbay, and Nadiem Amiri as his creative midfielders. The departure of Kai Havertz to Chelsea has seen them lose a key component of their midfield creativity.
With €20M signing Exequiel Palacios not particularly impressing, and Paulinho out for several months after rupturing his ACL, taking in Riqui Puig on loan may prove to be a masterstroke,
The most unlikely of the three options, but the most glamorous and promising one. Manchester City has endured a tough start to the season, languishing six points behind league leaders Leicester. They have some of the most skilled midfielders, with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Rodri in their ranks.
Yet, there seems to be a void created by the departure of David Silva, which they have been unable to fill right now. City have been associated in recent years with ruthlessly thumping in goal after goal. Now, however, they stare at just nine goals from open play in seven encounters in the league.
Puig may not be a starter at Manchester City. Yet, even appearances off the bench would be an upgrade to his treatment at Barcelona. The idea of working with Pep Guardiola, who just signed a contract extension, and learning from some of the best in the business in de Bruyne would prove to be a tempting option for Puig. It is certainly the least likely of the three, yet the most exciting.
Learning from Pep Guardiola and Kevin de Bruyne, albeit on loan, is too enticing to pass up on for Puig if the chance ever arrives. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
At the age of 21, Riqui Puig cannot while away the key years of his development on the bench. It is heartbreaking that there seems no other option. Yet, given how firm Koeman seems on his decision, maybe a move-out, hopefully only on loan, would be in the best interest of both Barcelona and Riqui Puig.