Football News

Memphis Depay: Netherlands’ 21st century trailblazer

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:47, 11 October 2019

Netherlands avoided a scare in their quest to qualify for Euro 2020 thanks to a 3-1 win over Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland went into the game three points ahead of Netherlands and took a 75th-minute lead thanks to Josh Magennis, with the fans in Rotterdam worrying of a shock result.

But two goals from Memphis Depay either side of a Luuk de Jong strike saw Netherlands turn zero points into three, moving top of Group c with three games left to play including another against Northern Ireland.

Depay’s two goals brought the fifth and sixth times the forward has scored for Netherlands in 2019, adding on to an impressive eight assists in just seven games. As a result, 25-year-old is the first Netherlands player to be directly involved in 14+ goals in a single calendar year since the turn of the century.

Depay also has more assists than any other Netherlands player this decade, registering 17 so far, one more than Wesley Sneijder.

It continues Depay’s impressive reformation after many believed he had failed to fulfil his potential following a move to Manchester United in 2015. The Dutchman spent two years at Old Trafford having signed from PSV Eindhoven but did not set the world alight, scoring just two goals and failing to record an assist in 33 Premier League games before moving to Lyon.

Looking back on his United spell in August, Depay spoke of his maturity levels as one of the reasons he struggled in Manchester.

“My mental state is different,” he told the Mirror.

“I was 21 back then when I was with United and now I am 25 so obviously I am a more matured human being now, than when I was in Manchester.

“Also there is a difference between the French game and the English game and the main difference is the speed of the ball. In England it goes very fast, attack and defence and attack and defence again.

“The French game you feel more the control and trying to find our moments and we are all more relaxed playing the ball to each other.”

It is in France where Depay has flourished, moving into the more central role he currently operates for Netherlands, earning him links of a return to United amid reports of a buy-back clause.

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