Memphis Depay (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɛmfɪs dəˈpɑi]; born 13 February 1994), also known as Memphis, is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a forward for English club Manchester United and the Netherlands national team. Depay was named as the "Best Young Player" in the world in 2015 by France Football. Depay is widely considered to be one of the brightest young talents in European football and the most exciting young player to emerge from the Eredivisie since compatriot Arjen Robben. Memphis is known for his ability to cut inside, dribbling, distance shooting and ability to play the ball off the ground. His playing style has earned him acclaim, with fans, media and former players drawing comparison to Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who believes "Memphis is one of the best young players in the world.", while Louis Van Gaal, Ronald Koeman, Guus Hiddink, Arjen Robben, Marco van Basten, and Wayne Rooney have stated "he will be the best in the world".
Having risen from significant adversity as a youngster in Moordrecht his former PSV youth coach Mart van Duren, immediately saw an innate quality in him drawing on his work ethic "I find it understandable that people can be reminded of Cristiano Ronaldo by Memphis," he said. "Well, I believe he is going to get close." He began his professional career with PSV Eindhoven, where, under the influence of manager Phillip Cocu, he became an integral part of the team, scoring 50 goals in 124 games across all competitions. During the 2014-15 season, he was the top scorer of the league with 22 goals in 30 games, and helped the team win the Eredivisie title for the first time since 2008. He also personally won the Johan Cruyff Trophy for his performances during the season as the talent of the year. He joined Manchester United in May 2015 for a reported fee of £25 million. During the 2015-16 season Depay had the third-highest shirt sales in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo according to online retailer Kitbag.
A product of the KNVB institution Memphis has represented the national team at every professional level from early developmental stages under the tutelage of iconic Dutch coaches and players alike. Memphis was part of the Netherlands Under-17 team that won the 2011 European Championship. He made his senior debut in 2013, and the following year was part of their squad that came third at the 2014 FIFA World Cup where he made his breakthrough performances on the international stage and currently a key member of the national setup for the UEFA Euro 2016 and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification campaigns.
Born in Moordrecht, Depay impressed scouts from Sparta Rotterdam at the age of nine where he dazzled on the fields of his boyhood club vv Moordrecht showing his football skills. It took only three seasons before scouts from Sparta snatched Depay from his local club. Chairman Ton Redegeld said "Memphis was as a young player already complete. He was two-footed and strong. If we won 7-0, he scored five times and would assist two times,". When he turned 12, he caught the eye of clubs such as AFC Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord. His grandfather, despite being an Ajax fan himself, advised Depay to move to PSV.
In 2011, Depay was on trial for PSV's first team while playing for Jong PSV – the club's reserve team. He made his official debut on 21 September 2011 in a KNVB Cup second round match against amateur side VVSB, opening an 8–0 away win. His first Eredivisie match was 26 February 2012, when PSV beat rivals Feyenoord 3–2 at the Philips Stadion, coming on in added time for Zakaria Labyad. On 18 March, six minutes after replacing Dries Mertens, he scored his first league goal to confirm a 5–1 win over sc Heerenveen. He made a total of eight league appearances in his first season, all as a substitute, scoring three goals.
Depay featured in the 2012 KNVB Cup Final on 8 April, playing the final four minutes of the 3–0 win over Heracles Almelo in place of Mertens at De Kuip in Rotterdam under interim coach Phillip Cocu, and was officially deployed in the first team the following day. On 29 June 2012, Depay signed his first professional contract with PSV, tying himself to the Boeren until 2017.
On 5 August, Depay featured in the 2012 Johan Cruijff Schaal at the Amsterdam ArenA, replacing Luciano Narsingh for the final six minutes as PSV defeated league champions Ajax 4–2. He made 20 Eredivisie appearances in his second season, scoring twice, including two starts. The first of these was on 2 March 2013 in a 2–0 home win over VVV-Venlo, scoring after three minutes after being set up by fellow teenager Jürgen Locadia. PSV again reached the cup final, losing 1–2 to AZ Alkmaar on 9 May, with Depay playing five minutes in place of Mertens.
2013–14: Breakthrough season
Depay scored his first goal in European football on 30 July 2013, when he drifted in from the left and then smashed the ball into the top corner past goalkeeper Sammy Bossut as PSV defeated Zulte Waregem 2–0 in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie. PSV failed to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League, but in their second group stage match in the Europa League, Depay scored again, this time curling the ball into the net from outside the area, as the Dutch side defeated Chornomorets Odesa 2–0 on 3 October.
Depay provided the assist for Tim Matavž's goal against Roda JC on 27 October 2013, but picked up two second-half yellow cards and was sent off for the first time in his professional career as PSV slumped to a 2–1 defeat. On 15 December, Depay helped PSV to just their second win in 13 matches, scoring twice in a 5–1 win over Utrecht. Depay helped PSV rack up their eighth win a row on 23 March 2014, a 3–1 win over Roda JC, having a hand in Bryan Ruiz's game-winning goal despite wearing a protective mask to cover a bruised eye socket suffered in a challenge with Renato Ibarra of Vitesse Arnhem on 15 March.
He helped PSV secure a place in European competition for the 41st consecutive year, edging the ball past goalkeeper Jelle ten Rouwelaar to score their first in a 2–0 win against NAC Breda; the final day win ensured that the club would finish fourth in the Eredivisie table.
2014–15: Top scorer and league title
After a successful showing in the 2014 World Cup, Depay was linked to a number of clubs, including Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Amid the speculation surrounding his future, he started the season for PSV in impressive fashion. Depay came off the bench to score one goal and deliver one assist in the return game of the Europa League third qualifying round tie between PSV and SKN St. Pölten on 7 August, as his team progressed to the play-off round after a 3–2 away win, giving them a 4–2 aggregate win over the Austrians. In the opening game of the Eredivisie season three days later, Depay played a major part in PSV's 3–1 away win against promoted side Willem II by scoring two goals. He improved on this performance in the following game, scoring two free kicks and delivering the assist for Georginio Wijnaldum's goal in a convincing 6–1 home win against NAC Breda. On 28 August, in the Europa League play-off second leg away in Belarus, he scored two late goals against Shakhtyor Soligorsk as PSV won 3–0 on aggregate to reach the group stage. Depay then suffered a groin injury during PSV's 3–1 defeat at PEC Zwolle on 13 September and he was substituted in the 18th minute.
On 18 April 2015, Depay scored the second goal with a free kick from 35 yards out, in a 4–1 home win over Heerenveen to give PSV their 22nd Eredivisie title, and first since 2008. Later that month, the club confirmed that they had received interest from others wishing to sign him, including Manchester United. He scored his last home goal for PSV in a 2–0 win against Heracles on 10 May. As he was substituted off, the stadium was filled with a defeaning cheer from the crowd around him and he was met with numerous congratulations from his teammates. He finished the season as the league's top scorer with 22 goals, two ahead of the runner-up, his team-mate Luuk de Jong.
On 7 May 2015, PSV confirmed that they had agreed a deal with Manchester United over Depay's transfer, subject to a medical. United manager Louis van Gaal said that he was "forced" into signing him early, due to interest from Paris Saint-Germain. Despite insistence from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers that he had never been after Depay, PSV director Marcel Brands had stated that he had conversations with Liverpool over a possible signing. On 12 June 2015, United confirmed the signing of Depay, for a reported fee of £25 million, on a four-year contract with the option to extend for a further year. He was unveiled as a Manchester United player at a press conference on 10 July 2015. This made him the fourth player to join United from PSV after Jaap Stam, Park Ji-Sung and Ruud Van Nistelrooy. He made his Manchester United debut in a pre-season friendly against Club América in Seattle on 17 July, contesting the first half as United fielded a different 11 players for each 45 minutes. He scored his first goal for the club four days later during a 3–1 win over San Jose Earthquakes. At his own request, Depay was given the iconic number 7 shirt, previously worn by club legends such as George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo after the departure of Ángel Di María.
Depay made his Premier League debut on 8 August as the season opened with a 1–0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. He was substituted after 68 minutes for Ander Herrera, and Van Gaal said after the match that Depay was playing in too eager a manner. On 18 August, Depay scored his first two goals for Manchester United, and assisted Maroune Fellaini's final goal, in a 3–1 home victory over Club Brugge in the first leg of the Champions League play-offs. Depay provided the assist for Wayne Rooney's first of his three goals, in the second leg. He scored again on 15 September in the first game of the competition's group stage, in an eventual 2–1 loss at his former team PSV. Depay was labelled as United's "European Danger Man" following his early success in the Champions League. Depay scored his first Premier League goal on 26 September, opening a 3–0 home win over Sunderland, a victory that put United on top of the league for the first time in 110 weeks.
Following his early struggles in the Premier League, he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, "There are a lot of games in Manchester. There are very few rest days and on training days you are mainly concerned with recovering. It's heavy, two games a week, always at a high level, and my body has to get used to that." These confessions were rubbed off by assistant manager and former United player and legend Ryan Giggs, who blamed Depay's flashy lifestyle as the cause to his poor form. Regarding his form, Van Gaal warned Depay of not emulating Ángel Di María, who suffered a similar setback after joining United, and left prior to Depay's arrival. Depay was later dropped to the bench, along with club and national teammate Daley Blind, during United's 3–0 win over Everton on 17 October 2015, following the Netherlands' failure to qualify for UEFA Euro 2016. Despite this, Depay was named in the 59-man longlist for the FIFA Ballon d'Or, but did not make the shortlist.
After being dropped in four consecutive matches, Depay got his first start as a second striker due to Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney's unavailability, and seized the opportunity with his second league goal in a 2–1 away win over Watford at Vicarage Road. He scored an 11th-minute opener when he volleyed in Ander Herrera's cross with his left foot. His performance earnt praise from his manager Van Gaal, as well as his first Premier League Man of the Match honour. In a January 2016 match against Chelsea, three minutes after coming on as a late substitute, Depay gave away the ball with a misplaced pass and failed to track back properly as Chelsea scored from the counterattack in stoppage time to draw the game.
Depay followed this with a goal each in United's two Europa League matches against Midtjylland in February. He scored United's solitary goal in 1–2 loss in the away leg then scored the final goal in a 5–1 win at home, allowing United to win 6–3 on aggregate. He also nutmegged Midtjylland defender André Rømer in the home leg by using a rabona. Depay was lauded for his performance in the home leg, where he not only scored but also set up the first goal, earned his side two penalties and his cross led to an own goal. His fans praised his performance as being "on fire". Rømer later said, "I've never been so close to crying after a match as I was today. Memphis is the best player I have ever faced. He is the best. He can do anything." Manager Louis van Gaal hailed the match as a "turning point" for Depay.
Depay was a member of the Dutch under-17 team which won the 2011 European Championship in Serbia. In the final against Germany in Novi Sad, he scored the goal which put the Netherlands ahead as they came from behind to defeat their rivals 5–2.
He was selected by Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal in the final 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He came on as a substitute before the half-time whistle in the second group match against Australia to replace defender Bruno Martins Indi, who had sustained a head injury, and in the 68th minute he scored the winning goal, a swerving effort from outside the box. He also set up Robin van Persie's equaliser. He became the youngest Dutchman to score a goal at the World Cup, at the age of 20 years and four months. He came on as a substitute again in the final group match against Chile on 23 June in São Paulo and scored the second goal for the Dutch, tapping in an Arjen Robben cross, as they clinched first place with a 2–0 victory.
Depay's first goal since the World Cup came in a friendly at the Amsterdam Arena on 5 June 2015, deflecting Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's shot to put the Netherlands 3–1 up against the United States, although the team eventually lost 4–3. In October of that year, he was involved in a fight with teammate Robin van Persie at an international training camp; manager Danny Blind stated to the media "There are sometimes situations in training where players think different. Then you talk about it. That's what happened and then it's over." The following month, both Depay and Van Persie were dropped from the Dutch squad for friendlies against Wales and Germany, with Blind stating of Depay "In football you must function in a team. He doesn't always do that. That's something he has to learn."
Style of play
Early in his career, a PSV coach noted Depay as "very angry", and he now uses a life coach to aid his mentality. In April 2015, The Daily Telegraph described Depay as "a fearsome striker of the ball with his right-foot but is usually used an as inverted left winger who cuts onto his right foot. A pacey and tricky player, his direct running makes him a difficult opponent for defenders". However, they criticised him as "a ball-hog", pointing out his high rate of shots in comparison to a low rate of assists. Depay is also known for his free-kick ability. During the 2014–15 season, he was statistically the best set-piece taker in the whole of Europe, as he scored seven times in 33 attempts, the most in all European leagues and the second-best accuracy.
Former Dutch international and Southampton manager Ronald Koeman regards Depay as "a great talent", but says that he must continue his personal development due to the physicality and mental strength needed in the Premier League. Former Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth defender Arjan de Zeeuw stated about Depay, "People regard him as a little bit arrogant, a little bit cocky, but I think he is a very good player, a very promising player, a very strong, very quick player and he's got some skill."
Depay has been compared to former United player Cristiano Ronaldo and fellow international Arjen Robben. Thijs Slegers says about the comparisons, "Memphis is a little bit like Cristiano; they have similar qualities, although there are of course areas where Memphis is inferior. However, his determination to be the best is where I see the real similarity with Cristiano." Like Ronaldo, Depay combines technical expertise with pure physical strength.
Depay was born in 1994, to a Ghanaian father, Dennis Depay, and a Dutch mother, Cora Schensema in the small southern Dutch village of Moordrecht. It was not long, however, before the relationship between the two parents began to fall apart and when Depay was four, his father walked out on the family. Seeing his father abandon him and his mother left a deep wound in Depay’s psyche. He was just about to start school and his background at home was destabilised. Cora soon met a new partner but the new man made their lives traumatic and though Depay tried to use football as a means to get away, he did not always succeed. He plays under his given name to spite his absent father. His father, Dennis Depay, told British newspaper The Sun that he wishes to reconcile with Memphis, and contested his son's claim that he ever abandoned him.
In the absence of another father figure, Depay’s grandfather Kees took up the role who first introduced him to football in their local club of vv Moordrecht and encouraged him further in football. Depay’s insecurities remained, and there was a lot for him to overcome, even at his tender age, but at least now he had a guiding figure and stability. Like so many other kids, he spent most of his time playing football on the street with his friends. One day, he ran inside and plonked himself on the sofa next to his granddad, in time for the football on TV, the 1998-99 Eredivisie trophy was being won by the club a mere 20-odd kilometres away; Feyenoord. Young Memphis turned to his grandfather and said: “One day you will be able to watch me play football on TV, too!”. Depay has numerous tattoos, including one that is a tribute to his grandfather, who died on the day before he turned 15, down his left arm. When he scored against Australia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he kissed this tattoo and pointed to the sky, dedicating his goal to his late grandfather a moment which he then in 2016 commemorated with a tattoo on his left torso depicting Christ the Redeemer and the date 18.06.14. He also has a tattoo on the inside of his lip stating succesvol (Dutch for 'successful') and has 'dream chaser' emblazed on his upper torso.
- As of match played 18 September 2016.
|Manchester United||2015–16||Premier League||29||2||3||0||2||0||11||5||0||0||45||7|
- Statistics accurate as of matches played on 28 May 2016.
|Netherlands senior team|
- PSV Eindhoven