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Depay to Barcelona: The Right Move?



Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

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.  

His career

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.

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