The stakes were high and the expectations were top when Manchester United signed Memphis Depay for a deal worth £25million from PSV back in the summer of 2015. After finishing his previous season with a tally of staggering 24 goals in 35 games, the manager along with the spectators touted the youngster as an able replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, hence, was given the iconic number 7 jersey, which was previously graced by the likes of George Best, Eric Cantona and the ‘Captain Marvel’ Bryan Robson.
Maybe, just maybe, this was a way too giant step in his career and the liabilities he faced at the Old Trafford proved to be the reason for his destructive career at the club and for the fourth time running since 2009, the ‘iconic’ number 7 was left vacant as Depay was sold to the French outfit Olympic Lyon a few days back.
Depay is known for his lightning speed and tricky feet. At Netherlands, he hammered his opponents for fun, but Premier League was certainly not a walk in the park. The topsy-turvy games in the league and hectic game schedules were clearly getting the better of Memphis and even though he had few moments of magic like in the UCL against Club Brugge, and few other occasional good performances, he failed to give consistent results on a weekly basis that were expected from a United’s No 7.
The emergence of Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial in the first team picture was the time when the young Dutchman lost his spot in the team completely.
The first season went by and the fans, with all heart, understood that it was too early to judge the abilities of Depay, and as soon as Mourinho came in, the sense of optimism was felt, as the fact that Mourinho prefers a speed dribbler on the flank in his 4-2-3-1 setup was quite evident.
But it seemed Mourinho had other plans as a senior name in Henrikh Mkhitaryan was brought and that moment sealed the fate of this youngster. Even though manager stated that he tends to keep Depay, his only involvement came in a few last minute cameo appearances indicating an imminent exit is on the cards.
Besides all of it, his off the pitch antiques were reportedly causing some serious troubles in the dressing room and he was warned off for that. Certainly, the boy had his swagger whenever he stepped on to the pitch, but the only thing that went wrong was his habit of overdoing the tricks and quite rightly, the Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas described Memphis Depay as a “show pony”.
“He’s a show pony. He was only interested in the United image. Mourinho doesn’t do show ponies, just ask Joe Cole.
“He’s a poor version of Neymar. When he does a trick he doesn’t even leave the player, he wants to stay and do another trick.”
The boy, who was once dubbed as a potential successor of Cristiano Ronaldo, was now a ‘show pony’ in the Premier League. In his 45 overall appearances for the Manchester club, the 22-year-old only managed 7 goals, and that was it for Depay.
United still seems to be having a tinge of faith in his potential and maybe that is the reason why the club has inserted a buy-back clause in his new contract with Lyon.
The number 7 jersey at Manchester United has been a curse ever since Cristiano Ronaldo decided to paint his jersey White from Red. The closest who came to grace the number, in my opinion, was Michael Owen, but let’s face it, he never justified it to the fullest. There are several other suitors in the club like Anthony Martial, but maybe, it will be safeguarded for a new record-signing in summer.