Transfer rumors have been swirling around Dutch youngster Memphis Depay, one of the breakout stars of the 2014 World Cup, ever since the 21-year-old’s standout performances at last summer’s tournament in Brazil.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Manchester United — now coached by then-Dutch manager Louis van Gaal — Manchester City, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and a whole host of the other usual suspects have been tenuously linked to Depay throughout the 2014-15 European season, as the PSV Eindhoven winger/forward has scored 19 times in 25 Eredivisie games, with another three goals coming in six Europa League games.
Sounds like a player all of Europe’s giants should and would be after, right? Right, which is why PSV director Marcel Brands admitted this week that Depay will almost certainly leave PSV in the summer.
Brands, speaking to Dutch news agency ANP:
“The chances are very high that he leaves. If you see what clubs are enquiring about him, they really are the best in Europe.
“When I talk for PSV I would say he is not ready and should continue here for another year. But I am realistic and if I worked at a big European club, I’d buy him without question.
“With a heavy heart [we would let him go], because a great player and a great guy leaves. But we are also proud that a boy from the academy is going to make such a step.”
Now comes the question, “Where should Depay go?”
The Man United link is obvious — Depay scored twice un Van Gaal’s tutelage at the World Cup, the first goals of his international career — but taking quick stock of the players currently occupying Depay’s most likely position at United — Angel di Maria, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj — would indicate someone will likely have to leave to make way for Depay.
Man City are almost certainly going to re-tool their entire squad in the summer, as their aging group of expensive stars has this year once again fallen short in all competitions. Jesus Navas has underwhelmed through two seasons in England and looks destined to leave in the summer, while Samir Nasri and David Silva are both approaching 30 years old.
PSG? They’ll almost certainly pay Depay the most of the clubs tenuously linked to the player, but it’s Ligue 1, and unless PSG struggle every year the way they have this year, they’ll not be facing enough tough competition week in and week out. Tottenham? If United and City are in the running, Spurs are out because they’ll never come close to matching the Manchester clubs for money.
Wherever Depay ends up, he needs a tactical system that fits his multi-faceted skillset, and a team that offers him a chance to win a first-team place, European football and the chance to legitimately challenge for trophies.