Who: Memphis Depay
From Where: Lyon
To Where: Barcelona
For How Much: Free Transfer
Grade For Barcelona: B+
Grade for Lyon: B-
MEMPHIS DEPAY TO BARCELONA OVERVIEW
Given his ties to former Netherlands Manager Ronald Koeman, many have expected Dutch striker Memphis Depay to join Barcelona for months. This move, a free transfer, was confirmed over the weekend. Depay has signed a two-year contract with the La Liga side.
Depay has spent nearly the past five seasons (he moved from Manchester United to Lyon midway through the ’16-17 campaign) in Ligue 1, where he’s led Lyon’s attack. Casual soccer fans who don’t follow the ins and outs of Ligue 1 will remember Depay from his brief, disappointing stint with Manchester United and Lyon’s surprising run to the semifinals of the ’19-20 Champions League.
WHO IS HE?
Depay is, first and foremost, a tremendous goal scorer, despite how his move to ManU back in ’15-16 panned out. In the last 12 months alone, he piled up 20 goals and 12 assists in Ligue 1 for Lyon.
He’s also enjoying a strong start to Euro 2020 as a key piece of the Netherlands’ attack. Two days after signing with Barcelona, Depay scored the type of goal that will have Blaugrana fans excited about what he brings during Monday’s clash with North Macedonia. Monday’s goal gave him two through three games for a team that rolls into knockout play undefeated, with a combined score of 8-2.
— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) June 21, 2021
In addition to his goal scoring, Depay recorded 10 assists or more in Ligue 1 in two of the last three seasons, establishing himself as one of the French league’s top offensive players.
95 – Only Kylian Mbappé 🇫🇷 (118 – G91 A27) has been involved in more goals than Memphis Depay 🇳🇱 (95 – G58 A37) in Ligue 1 since the start of the 2017-18 season. Decisive. pic.twitter.com/kcQQXTVoUT
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 19, 2021
Which version of Memphis Depay will we see?
The biggest question for Barcelona is whether they’re getting “Manchester United Memphis Depay” or “Lyon Memphis Depay,” as his last move to a historic club amounted to less than he hoped for. Depay has spoke openly about why he never found his way under ManU Manager Louis van Gaal as a 21-year-old.
Several years after leaving Manchester, Barcelona has good reason to hope Depay can provide another scoring threat up top.
It will certainly help that he’s playing for a manager he knows and respects – Depay has made no secret of his fondness of Koeman, who nearly convinced the striker to join Barcelona last summer.
Between his form in recent seasons for Lyon, a strong showing at Euro 2020 and his success with the Netherlands under Koeman, Depay profiles as a player who could improve Barcelona’s attack.
IS THE PRICE FAIR?
Free transfers – good deals if you can get them.*
It’s hard to give a ton of analysis when there’s no actual fee, but I have to praise Barcelona for making free transfer deals for Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay in the early weeks of the offseason.
At Euro 2020, Depay is showing as we speak that he’s a high-level player. At 27, he should enter his prime in Barcelona, making this a big get for the Catalans. And at the very least, it’s hard to imagine none of Aguero, Garcia and Depay making a significant positive impact for this club in ’21-22.
*At the risk of sounding like an obnoxious hack, yes, I’m going to write that whenever a player like Gini Wijnaldum or Memphis Depay joins a new team on a free transfer.
WHAT IMPACT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
As good as Depay has been last season and this summer, better, more proven players than him (Antoine Griezmann, to name one) have struggled to replicate their previous success after joining Barcelona in recent seasons. There’s not exactly a logjam of quality forwards for Barcelona who play centrally, but Depay will have to compete for minutes with Aguero. I like Depay’s chances of staying healthy better than Aguero’s given the latter’s mileage, but that doesn’t make Depay a lock to start more matches than the veteran Argentine.
In addition to competing with Aguero, it’s worth pointing out that someone out of the group of Griezmann, Depay, Aguero, Ousmane Dembele (if he’s back) and Ansu Fati will end up spending a lot of time on the bench as they compete to join Messi up top.
I’m buying Depay as a high-impact player under Koeman, though I’m totally unsure of how — and who — Barcelona will line up this season.
I don’t know what to say here. Ligue 1 teams like Lyon know that players like Depay are on their way out after a 20-goal season like the one he just delivered. I ding Lyon a bit for not getting something for him last summer, but due to factors outside their control, French clubs besides PSG are fighting a losing battle to keep their best players.