PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay has been making waves in the Dutch Eredivisie over the last 18 months with the likes of Arjen Robben and the legendary Ronaldo (Nazario) already mentioned in the same breath. There is even talk of a future Ballon d’Or title.
While it may be a little too soon to speak of a glamorous future with such certainty, the 21-year-old’s development is coming along nicely and at the very least is doing so in the mould of many former Eredivisie players who earned big time moves to the English Premier League.
With there already talk of summer interest from Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United we have a look at why the Premier League is the most likely destination for a kid already described as the future of Dutch football.
When looking for foreign talent the Dutch Eredivisie is normally one of the first places Premier League managers scout out. The best players from that division are often easier to lure away from their respective clubs and come at a cheaper price.
If you score 30 goals a season in the Eredivisie then you get marked at around £20 million; if you pull that feat off in La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga you become indispensible to your club and have £50+ million price whacked on your head.
You might argue that such pricing discrepancies are the product of the Eredivisie being a weaker division which, to some extent, is true. But there can be no doubt that its very best young talent has a history of being able to carry their form into the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.
Just before helping Uruguay to their best World Cup finish since the 1970s, Luis Suarez had managed to register 49 goals in 48 games in all competitions for Ajax having scored 28 the season before.
Such ruthlessness in front of goal earned him a £22.8 million move to Liverpool where he hit the ground running and finished his career with the Reds with 82 goals in 133 appearances.
Ruud van Nistelrooy’s story is rather similar scoring 75 goals in all competitions in just three years at PSV Eindhoven before registering 150 in just five years at Manchester United.
In a time when the transfer window seems rife with the arrivals of expensive overseas talent destined to struggle with the physicality and intensity of the Premier League the likes of the aforementioned strikers as well as names like Wilfried Bony, Arjen Robben and Dirk Kuyt shine through as proof that the Eredivisie has always been a somewhat more reliable market for managers in the English top flight.
Skills Depay the bills
And Depay deserves to be up there with the best of them. Already making PSV history, only club legend Willy van der Kuijlen and Brazilian Ronaldo have scored more for the club before their 21st birthday.
Quite simply Depay has become the most important player for Eindhoven this year as they look to end their longest wait for a title since the 1970s. Every game that Memphis has scored in PSV have won and that is down to some very impressive stats.
He has been involved in 31% of Eindhoven’s league goals this season scoring 15 and assisting three – which means he has already overtaken his 2013/14 tally with 12 games to spare.
On average he fires off 5.3 shots per game and completes 2.2 key passes and 2.7 dribbles. Nobody has attempted more runs this season in the Eredivisie than him (with 50 attempts) making him every defender’s worst nightmare.
Ere to stay?
At just 21 he appears to already have a remarkably well-rounded game and interest from the likes of Manchester United should come as no surprise.
While Depay has made it known that he would like to stick around for a number of years and signed a contract extension through to 2018 earlier this year, an Eredivisie exit is a certainty; if he wants to fulfil his potential he will have to follow in the footsteps of those before and take on the challenge of a bigger league.
He’ll have to think carefully when the offers flood in for him though, as they inevitably will. Far too many former Eredivisie superstars have gone on to benchwarm in the Bundesliga and La Liga.
Where would he fit in?
The Premier League is a tried and tested step-up for the winger as we’ve already seen, and, even though we’ve seen clangers such as Afonso Alves and Mateja Kezman over the years, he certainly has the physical build to cope with the physicality of the division.
The fear, of course, is that Depay is snapped up by a club like Chelsea or Spurs – one top heavy in attacking midfielders – and he never sees the light of day. But Manchester United are clearly the firm favourites. Depay has worked with Louis Van Gaal with the Dutch national team and already has international team-mates there in the form of Daley Blind and Robin van Persie.
Plus the Red Devils have a dire need for movement and penetration going forward as it was recently revealed that only Burmley (1,877) have attempted more long balls this season than the Red Devils (1,861). And those traits are exactly what Depay can provide.