With reports linking Liverpool with a move for young PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay, Jack Lusby runs the rule over the 21-year-old Dutchman.
The summer transfer window is fast approaching, and Liverpool have been linked with a move for another of Europe’s finest young talents this week in PSV Eindhoven star Memphis Depay.
Simon Mullock of the Mirror claims that “Liverpool look in pole position to snatch young Dutch star [Depay] from under the noses of arch-rivals Manchester United.
“Their scouts targeted the player more than two years ago and have been keeping a very close relationship with both him and his agent, Alex Kroes.
A delegation from Liverpool has visited PSV every month this season and spent a lot of time this week with Kroes, [and] also watched the 21-year-old’s last game in his presence.”
With a fee of £20 million quoted, would Depay be a good signing for Liverpool?
Depay is a left-sided attacking midfielder who wears the No. 7 shirt for PSV, and is one of the main reasons why the Eindhoven side are storming the Eredivisie this season.
PSV have taken 70 points from 27 league games, and hold an 11-point lead over second-placed Ajax.
What best characterises Depay is his confidence in running with the ball, with the 21-year-old a highly skilled dribbler with a supreme attacking bent.
This often results in Depay creating chances for his teammates, underlining a crucial end product in the winger which is often lacking in speedy attacking midfielders—this season Depay has made two key passes on average per league game, with only Raheem Sterling (2.2) making more at Liverpool.
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) March 15, 2015
Over the last two seasons, Depay has made the most chances of any Eredivisie player, with 133.
This is far from his most valued asset, however, as this season Depay has proven himself a clinical goalscorer, hitting the back of the net 16 times in 23 games.
Depay’s goalscoring talents are aided by his dead-ball prowess, as evidenced by a remarkable free-kick goal in PSV’s 3-0 win away to Go Ahead Eagles at the beginning of this month:
Last month, PSV manager Phillip Cocu compared Depay to another current Dutch phenomenon, claiming: “Whether he can be as good as Arjen Robben? I think so. They are different players, but they are both fast and have a good shot. And both always have the urge to learn.”
Depay starred alongside Robben at last year’s World Cup, scoring two goals and making one assist in four appearances, at a rate of a goal contribution every 58 minutes.
The forward also boasts European experience, and scored three goals in six Europa League games this season.
Cocu also predicted that Depay would leave the club at the end of the season: “That’s unfortunate, but on the other hand, we must as a club be proud because we have trained him.
“At some point, it becomes clear that he is ready for the next step. And yes, I think he’s going to leave PSV after this season.”
Depay clearly has the attacking qualities to succeed, but what would he need to work on at Liverpool?
One of the main challenges that Depay would face if he moved to Liverpool is his ability to adapt to a higher level of demand in the Premier League as, while the Eredivisie is a competitive league, and one of the most enjoyable to watch, the standard of football varies hugely.
For every Wilfried Bony, there is a Jozy Altidore; for every Ruud van Nistelrooy there is a Jon Dahl Tomasson; for every Luis Suarez, there is an Afonso Alves.
In order to do so, Depay would need to continue the strong level of consistency that he has provided this season for PSV.
To suit Brendan Rodgers’ suffocating possession-based game on the ball, Depay would need to improve his passing ability, with his season’s average accuracy of 75.1 percent only better than Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Jose Enrique in terms of the Liverpool squad.
Naturally, none of these players can be deemed a real success in Rodgers’ system.
Furthermore, Depay would need to translate his attacking intensity to an off-ball defensive application, as Rodgers’ consistent criticism of Balotelli has shown.
However, with the 21-year-old a supreme attacking prospect with immense potential, Rodgers would be wise to find a place for him in his squad.
Where Depay Would Fit In at Liverpool
With Rodgers’ current 3-4-2-1 system not utilising traditional wingers, Depay’s role at Liverpool would need to be tailored slightly.
If Rodgers does persist with this formation next season—and its current success gives no reason why he shouldn’t—Depay would be best suited to one of the two attacking midfield roles behind the centre-forward.
In particular, Depay would suit the shadow-striker role that Raheem Sterling fills when in that position.
Depay’s clinical nature in front of goal, as well as his astute creativity, would make him a devastating player in a more centre role, and the forward would likely flourish in this system.
With Rodgers suggesting recently that “ultimately if they, or more so their representative, decides the player needs to move, that is normally what happens,” in relation to Sterling’s contract talks, in a highly unlikely worst-case scenario, Depay would be an ideal replacement for the 20-year-old, too.
At £20 million and just 21 years old, Memphis Depay should represent a solid investment for Brendan Rodgers this summer, and would swiftly become a key player for Liverpool.
Statistics via WhoScored.
Should Liverpool target Memphis Depay in the summer? Let us know in the comments below.