Last season, Ronald Koeman made the acquisition of Memphis Depay from Lyon on a free deal. While the Dutchman suffered numerous injuries, he did perform commendably given the time awarded to him, scoring 13 goals from 37 appearances.
Many things have changed in the Blaugrana camp since he signed, and he is no longer the club’s best bet in the centre-forward role. The likes of Robert Lewandowski, who recently took his number nine shirt, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, are both further up the pecking order.
Furthermore, while Memphis is commended for his versatility, Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres, two players considered to be in Barcelona for the long term, are both above him.
As it stands, the Dutch international is third-placed in both wings, the centre-forward role, and has lost his shirt number. He was negotiating a departure to Juventus on a free transfer, but that seems to have halted.
In light of the recent developments, join Barça Universal as we explore three possible destinations for Memphis Depay.
With history in the Premier League, Memphis Depay making a return to England doesn’t seem far-fetched by any stretch of the imagination. His time in the past was nothing worth writing home about, however, he has improved tremendously since then.
Antonio Conte has enjoyed arguably the best transfer window of any side in the Premier League this summer. The Italian has bolstered his squad with the likes of Yves Bissouma, Richarlison, Clement Lenglet from Barcelona, Ivan Perisic from his former side Inter, and Fraser Forster.
If there is one thing that managers want ahead of a season as jam-packed as this, it is depth. With Memphis, not only would Conte be adding numbers but also quality to his team’s frontline.
Subsequent to the departure of Steven Bergwijn, signing the Oranje player would mean that Spurs have six forwards. These include Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski, Son Heung-Min, Lucas Moura, and Richarlison himself.
Memphis will add to Spurs’ options in terms of both versatility and possible formations. He can be deployed as both a centre-forward, a left winger, and even a central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1.
As the CF, he would benefit immensely from the passing range and creativity of Kane from deep, should the two be utilised together.
In fact, Memphis could be deployed as the no. 10 behind Son and Kane. The latter and Memphis are both, by nature, players who like to drop deep and change the tempo of attacks.
They are also, however, players who can be the focal point of the attack, feeding and feeding off through balls and long passes. Further, Kane’s ability to play with his back to the defence allows him to play both Memphis and Son into space.
Furthermore, he would profit off of the fact that at Spurs, he would have wide players to both give him room to work in the central areas as well as outlets to which he can pass.
On the wings, Son is the Lilly Whites’ best bet on the left side; despite Richarlison’s own versatility. While the Brazilian could supplant Kane with reasonable levels of success centrally, he would not be as good an option as Memphis out wide.
The Blaugrana’s close control can be taken advantage of in the wings, and so too his passing range.
Memphis is one of the most creative players in Europe, and with the potential to make switches to Kulusevski on one wing and a through-ball to Kane down the middle, the opportunities are endless.
His skill will be especially important given the fact that this is a World Cup year. England are expected to go far in the competition, and given the nature of English football, with a league, two domestic cups and the Champions League, depth both in the striking department and the wider areas will be pivotal to any title charge from Tottenham in the current season.
Despite making the €100 million acquisition of Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan, Chelsea sent the Belgian back to the club he truly wanted to play for. His miserable form, coupled with the fact that the striker wanted nothing to do with the Blues, made the separation rather easy.
Further, with Timo Werner’s exit, Thomas Tuchel now has a striker-shaped hole in his team without the presence of Lukaku.
Granted, their tenure in Chelsea was nowhere near as prosperous as they would have liked it to be, they at least offered an option whenever the former Champions League winners needed it.
Without the Belgian, Chelsea find themselves dependent on Armando Broja and Kai Havertz as his sole options in the striking department.
The former is clearly far from being a starter, while the latter has not proven to be a goalscorer. Raheem Sterling’s inclusion helps, but there are far too many holes in Chelsea’s attack.
Memphis scored 12 league goals last term. While this number is inherently not that impressive, it is four higher than Lukaku’s eight last season, this too with just 300 more minutes played.
One thing that the Dutchman desperately lacked at Barcelona, that he will have in abundance in London, is world-class management. In Thomas Tuchel, Memphis has a coach that can amply take advantage of his dexterity in the final third.
To both his and the team’s disadvantage, Memphis’ creativity was hardly taken advantage of in Barcelona. Under the German, and with a stellar signing in Sterling, the Dutchman’s drive to play the final ball can finally be put to good use.
Chelsea’s attack, under Tuchel, has been rather disjointed. The team lacks players that can drop deep to pick up the ball from the middle third and drive it forward effectively in the final third.
That burden often falls to the wingbacks in Reece James, Ben Chilwell, and now Marc Cucurella. While Matteo Kovacic can do that job well, he is often injured, leaving that burden on players far from well-versed in those duties.
Well, Memphis is not. He thrives in that position and role, plucking himself apart from the defence, combining with players using 1-2s and driving the ball forward. He thrives on that extra responsibility, which he is sure to get under Tuchel.
Chelsea’s lack of goal threat can be snuffed out by having the Englishman’s more refined instinct in front of goal-served passes by Memphis Depay. The Dutchman himself can have rounds in front of goal, as he has demonstrated his capacities from long range in the garnet and blue.
The Oranje’s finishing is not out of this world. Something that might come to frustrate a portion of the Chelsea fanbase is that, unlike Lewandowski, he scores in proportion to his Expected goals.
This means that Memphis shouldn’t truly be expected to score 25 goals from 20xG, but rather his goals will be an almost like-for-like match with, if not slightly below, the chances presented to him.
Regardless of how or in which position the Blaugrana plays if he joins the Blues, they can be assured of his quality.
In the short term, the acquisition of Memphis should be able to provide a decent amount of goals, and assists should he opt for a redemption arc in the Premier League.
Last but certainly not least, Memphis Depay’s third possible destination, could be the very club he’s set to leave, Barcelona. It may seem odd to propose a club he already plays for as a possible destination, but there are several key reasons for this.
The nature of the season itself makes egress from Barcelona a horrible idea. The Blaugrana are bound to lose Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea for around €30 million.
In the event that he leaves, that would leave Barça with just one striker, that man being Robert Lewandowski.
Alone, it would be incredibly difficult to hold down the striking position for Barcelona in such a jam-packed season.
In previous years he would perhaps have survived, however, with all club football coming to a halt in November, and resuming in January, teams like Barça which compete for all silverware will have a compacted fixture list on their hands.
One could argue that Ansu Fati could act as the secondary striker, however, given Spain’s high odds of going far in the World Cup, and consequently using the Spaniard in many of these matches, the probability of injuries naturally increases.
Barcelona would simply be shooting themselves in the foot by limiting their options in the striking role, especially by relying on a player who has had hardly the best injury record in recent memory.
With Ferran Torres, a different train of logic applies. The former City man plays as a winger for the Blaugrana, as this is his primary position in Xavi Hernandez’ setup.
For the sake of tactical balance in the front three, it would be best for Xavi to use him wide and have Ansu as his substitute, rather than playing him as the secondary striker in the team.
It is certain that Memphis will be utilised extensively by the Oranje in December for however long the Netherlands will participate in the World Cup.
Notwithstanding, he could be more than open to playing a secondary role to Lewandowski. This was the case when he arrived in Barcelona expecting to be Lionel Messi’s understudy.
His impact from the bench could be used to great effect by the Puppet Master. Memphis’ progressive runs can be utilised in order to capitalise on passes from Jules Kounde, Sergio Busquets, Pedri Gonzalez, or even Raphinha. The Dutchman can offer a threat in front of goal, as was seen against Athletic Club.
The same would apply to his unheralded creativity. Late in games, with rivals at their most fatigued states, Memphis could easily thread passes to the likes of Torres, or even Frenkie de Jong, who are always open to making runs into the penalty area.
There have been reports claiming that Xavi wants to use the 3-4-3 diamond this season, using an attacking midfield behind Lewandowski. Ideally, he’d want that player to be Bernardo Silva, but the Portuguese’s arrival at the club now is highly unlikely.
Consequently, it would not be wildest idea to pitch Memphis in that role. Not only is he well versed as a second striker, but it elevates Lewa’s threat as well.
The Pole is used to playing with Thomas Muller, who played off him, giving each other ample of space to operate with in the final third.
While Memphis is not quite as brilliant off the ball as the German, his burst of pace and associative understanding would add a potent threat to the opposition backline. The two can run off each other, making moves very Messi-Suarez-esque in theory.
Barcelona, at least for this season, still do need their former number nine. Letting him go, this too without getting a proper replacement, could come to wreck the Catalans’ season in its latter, more competitive stages.