Memphis Depay has revealed that he is struggling to make the transition from the Dutch Eredivise to the rigours of the English game after his big money summer move to Manchester United.
The Dutch wonderkid was snapped up by father figure Louis van Gaal, after Paris Saint Germain and Liverpool’s interest forced United to act quickly, with the Red Devils splashing out £25million to Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven – a fee which could increase depending on clauses.
After parting ways with club record signing Angel Di Maria after a detrimental solitary year in English football, the signing of Depay gave United fans hope that there would be some much needed pace, youth and imagination added to their ranks after regular lacklustre displays last season.
Di Maria’s departure left the iconic number seven jersey without an owner, and Memphis desperate to be a hit at Old Trafford decided to take the added burden and pressure which comes with the famous number seven shirt.
However, in his opening eight Premier League games the Dutch talent has only found the net once and has failed to have a real influence domestically.
Van Gaal has not been afraid to haul off his Dutch star and Depay has admitted that the physical challenge that the English game poses is proving a difficult quandary to overcome.
“There are very few rest days and on training days you are mainly concerned with recovering,” he said.
“It’s heavy, two games a week, always at a high level, and my body has to get used to that.”
But Memphis has no doubts about his ability to succeed at the Theatre of Dreams, adding: “I try to manage my career in steps, and I am still in the middle.
“I think this was the right step and I am happy in Manchester … I’m still developing.”
The Dutch prodigy has only completed the 90 minutes three times in the Premier League this season, only one of those have coincided in a United win (Southampton).
However in United’s biggest domestic tests against fierce rivals Liverpool and Arsenal, Depay has been withdrawn at half time.
The Dutchman’s stats against Arsenal were grim reading, 71 % pass accuracy, no crosses completed, no chances created and not a single shot was registered, as Hector Bellerin constantly stifled the Dutchman’s progress.
On the other hand Depay’s performances in Europe have indicated why the three times European Champions forked out such a hefty sum for the 21-year old.
The slower pace and tempo have allowed the former PSV star to flourish on the European stage – Depay has created three chances in his two Champion’s League group stage outings, which is only one shy of his Premier League tally despite playing six games more.
He has already scored three times in United’s European campaign thus far kicking on from he where left off in his final season at the Philips Stadion when Depay was in scintillating form and produced a phenomenal goal return of 28 goals in 40 appearances across all competition.
Depay’s impressive goal return was aided by his impressive free-kick capabilities, as he was statistically named the best set piece specialist in Europe, after scoring seven times from his 33 attempts.
The Dutchman’s free-kick ability is just one of the similar attributes that have seen him draw comparisons with Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo.
Just like Memphis, the Real Madrid record goal scorer endured a rude awakening to life in English football, but his burning desire to become the very best enabled him to not only adapt but master the rip-roaring speed of the Premier League.
Dutch journalist Thijs Slegers said of 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.”
Depay is desperate to become a hit at Old Trafford and in some cases may be trying too hard to crack the monopoly of the Premier League instantly.
But with Van Gaal monitoring his progress, Memphis will be given time to showcase his talent and become the star that everyone expects the mercurial youngster to become.
Image courtesy of Beanyman Sports, via Youtube, with thanks