The first thing you need to know about Memphis Depay is that, assuming his medical proceeds acceptably, he will be a Manchester United player on or shortly after the transfer window opens in June. For several of you, that might be the last thing you need to know as well, and so good luck to you. Enjoy your day.
For the rest of you, however, there will be further questions, and it's here that your super-soaraway Busby Babe can help. No, we are not Eredivisie experts; to be honest, we don't even know what 'Eredivisie' stands for. But this is the internet and, like rats in London, you're never more than six feet from an expert. Let's set out some cheese and see what we can find ...
We'll begin with what the professionals are saying. In September last year, the Guardian totted up a list of the 100 best footballers in the world. Depay sneaked in at No. 96, and noted Dutch football expert Barry Glendenning wrote the following:
A player who attacks with intent from the flank, whilst comfortable cutting inside and taking on defenders, Depay is widely considered to be one of the brightest young talents in European football.
More recently, Elko Born, a journalist who is both nice and Dutch, has written a piece for Eurosport after the move was announced. In amongst much gushing praise and comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo and Arjen Robben, however, he notes that he's not quite the finished article:
Despite his obvious skill, Depay is still young, and still merely a talent, rather than the finished article. Switching from the Eredivisie to the Premier League will take some adjustment time [and] at the same time, the pressure resting on Depay's shoulders will be even bigger than it was in Eindhoven.
Can Depay do it? He probably can ... he might be the most exciting young player to emerge from the Eredivisie since Arjen Robben, but at the age of 21, he will need some more time to become quite as accomplished and important to his team as his Bayern Munich counterpart.
Back to the Guardian, and to a fascinating piece by Bart Vlietstra, a Dutch journalist from De Volksrant. Part interview from the World Cup, part biographical sketch, the piece ends with this enticing paragraph:
Given Depay's understanding with Van Gaal it was no surprise that Manchester United beat Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain in the battle to sign him. Memphis is more powerful than Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young, quicker and more penetrative than Ángel Di María, worries less than Marouane Fellaini, is more mobile than Radamel Falcao and Van Persie and has a better right-foot shot than any of them.
Finally, we direct you to this piece on the website of Dutch newspaper Eindhovens Dagblat. Partly because it gives a little more information on the fee — which could rise to €31m, once all bonuses are considered — but mostly because it has a good picture of the player with a large bear.
We don't know much about Dutch football, but football-oranje.com? They do. Or at least, they sound like they do. Last June, they published a lengthy report from an English PSV fan who, in his own words, had "watched almost every match of his professional career". It's all worth reading, but the conclusion is particularly exciting:
Deep down, I think we all believe Memphis Depay needs at least one more season with PSV [...] One day, this uncommonly-gifted footballer will be as good as we all yearn for him to be. Memphis Depay will be a worldwide superstar. Memphis Depay will play for the biggest clubs on the biggest stages. Memphis Depay will melt your heart. But, right now, he's just another PSV player with a ridiculously-bright future. Let him grow. It'll be worth it in the end.
He got that one more season, and he used it to top score in a title win. Good call, Mr English PSV Fan. Good call.
On a more general tip, the thoroughly lovely people over at In Bed With Maradona spend every year tracking "the 100"; their own reckoning of world football's top prospects. In 2014, they picked Depay, gave him an A, and rounded his year up as follows:
This isn't a mere profile. It's a love letter to an icon in the making. Depay is more than just a good player. He's electrifying, a scintillating example of the generation that must inherit the expectations of Europe's 2010s record-breakers. He's outrageously confident, ballsy to a fault and entirely unfazed by on-field pressure. It comes down to focus combined with determination and innate ability, and Depay's got the lot.
As everybody knows, the anagram is the window to the soul. And so it is with some pleasure that we exclusively reveal that "Memphis Depay" can be rearranged to form two outstanding alternatives. Leaving the slightly-concerning EMPHYSEMA DIP aside, we have first the exceptionally stylish:
But second, and even better:
MAIMED SHY PEP
You have been warned, Bayern Munich.
It is now illegal to write about football without including at least a few numbers, and so here is some cold, hard data. Memphis Depay was born on 13 February 1994 — it was a Sunday; United beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 in the League Cup — and as such is 7754 days old.
More recently, he's been scoring goals. Lots and lots of lovely goals: 21 in 28 league games this season (so far), along with three in the Europa League. He also scored twice in Brazil last summer, in the process becoming the youngest Dutchman to score at a World Cup. However, his pass completion percentage last season was a mere 74.5%, and so we can safely conclude that he's total rubbish.
Read anything about the lad and three things will come across. One, he's very good at football. Two, he's got a remarkable number of tattoos, including some inside-of-lower-lip work. And three, he's very ... emotional.
As with most armchair psychoanalysis, this is generally traced back to his childhood: his father was absent; he was brought up by his mother; he idolised his grandfather, who passed away when he was fifteen. From such origins came, apparently, a complicated kid whose drive on the pitch has been punctuated by occasional clashes with off-field authority figures and once, apparently, with a teammate on the training ground.
He is still exceptionally young, of course, and everybody seems to agree that whatever else might be going on in his head, he takes his football very seriously. And it's here that Louis van Gaal might be more than just a coach. In O Louis, published in 2013, Hugo Borst explains that "As far as [Memphis] is concerned, his father no longer exists. Which is why he no longer wants to play in a shirt that bears his Ghanaian surname. The name is Memphis, not Depay." He then goes on to explain:
Another father has entered his life, in the shape of national coach Louis van Gaal. An ideal situation for Memphis and for Louis too. A welcome outlet for his bottled-up paternal affections. I hope that one day Memphis gets to play under Louis' tutelage again. A reunion with his non-biological father would be a blessing ... I swear, half a season with Louis as his manager and Memphis will be striding onto the pitch proudly wearing the name Van Gaal on his shirt.
The general consensus is that Memphis can play anywhere along the front three but is best attacking from out to in, one of these perverted wingers the police seem to have no idea how to stop. So while he might not break into the first-team straight away, the obvious place in the United team as it's currently set up is on the left, competing with (and possibly replacing, in the fullness of time) Ashley Young.
Given that Young's recent performances have apparently been enough to earn him a new contract but haven't, in our view, been enough to secure him a first-team place in the long (or even medium) term, we're calling this A Good Thing. Young, after all, hasn't done much goalscoring. Or successful crossing. Or even effective diving. What are the club even paying you for, Ashley?
The man himself
Finally, we direct you towards some quotes, made on the website of his agents, SEG, and reproduced over on ESPN FC. There's also some words from Ronald Koeman as well. Here is Memphis making all the right noises about telling Liverpool to do one:
Yes [there were other clubs interested], but you shouldn't believe all the rumors in the media. In the end it was just a matter of feeling, not a matter of money.
Finally finally, another compilation video, because there's nothing better. Proper Euro-trance on this one as well. As it should be.
And to clean your ears out.