Is Memphis Depay too good for Olympique Lyonnais, and how much longer will he stay at the club? Those are the questions preying on the minds of Lyon fans as their star player is perennially linked with a move elsewhere.
The player himself has been quoted many times as saying that he believes he should be plying his trade at one of Europe’s top clubs, but as yet none has come in with a concrete offer for his services, perhaps because he flattered to deceive during his spell at Manchester United.
However, Memphis has been a much improved player during his three seasons at Lyon, often reproducing the kind of form that prompted Manchester United to pay €34 million for him back in 2015. On his day he can be a world beater and definitely wouldn’t look out of place alongside the biggest names at a Barcelona or Bayern Munich, but his challenge has been to find consistency.
Perhaps the move to Manchester came a bit too early in his career, and he certainly wasn’t ever given enough regular first team starts to play himself into form, so maybe he’s ready for a second crack at the whip now. Given what he has achieved in a mediocre Lyon squad – often carrying the team single-handedly through difficult periods – it would be interesting what he can do surrounded by players of equal talent.
Nobody could begrudge him another move to a ‘mega club’ if that’s what he wishes, and of course that’s what any ambitious player should aspire to, but it would come with a risk of more time on the bench if he couldn’t make the step up. Maybe he has found his level as a big fish in one of Europe’s second tier clubs but he’ll surely regret it if he doesn’t try his luck at one of the regular Champions League contenders. At 26, he’s approaching his peak and may feel the time is right to make that move.
As a Lyon fan, I hope that he stays and leads the club’s current rebuilding process, but the club have a habit of cashing in on their prize assets when the time is right and with Champions League football looking unlikely next season Memphis could be the next star in the departure lounge. The club would certainly expect a massive return on the €16 million they paid Manchester United for him in 2017, although there is the possibility that he could run down his contract and leave for free in June 2021.
Depay will also be eager to add to his personal trophy collection, something he hasn’t been able to do thus far at the French club. He enjoyed early success at PSV, winning the Dutch cup in 2012 as a late substitute in the final and was the star of their 2014-15 league title winning campaign. Since then, the 2016 FA Cup with Manchester United is his only other major honour.
Depay made his international debut for the Netherlands as a substitute in a 2-0 win against Turkey in 2013, having previously represented the country at many junior levels. He made a big impact at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and has since gone on to become a key player for the Dutch national team. He would also have been eligible to represent Ghana courtesy of a Ghanaian father, but opted for the country of his birth.
He is a fast and skilful attacker who can play in any position across the front line or in a slightly deeper role behind a main striker, and he possesses a fearsome shot both from open play and from set pieces, at which he has become a renowned specialist. He definitely has the toolkit to make it at the highest level if he can find the consistency.