Memphis Depay is not Lionel Messi. That much is clear, and doesn’t even need to be stated. But Memphis can fill the void – or at least part of it – that the incomparable Argentine has left by departing Barcelona and joining Paris Saint-Germain. Memphis can’t do it in ability or end product, but he can do it in attitude.
The Dutchman brings a touch of arrogance and self-assurance to a roster in dire need of those qualities. Everybody connected to Barcelona would be forgiven for feeling a little unsure of themselves right now, not full of the joys of life. The club and its legion of devoted supporters are focused on the past and fearful of the future, mourning what they’ve lost. Memphis can serve as the antidote to that, evidenced in his behaviour since joining.
Day off 😌⚽️ pic.twitter.com/wFvjl9TL3p
— Memphis Depay (@Memphis) August 17, 2021
The forward has been impressive on the pitch throughout pre-season, coming into the side off the back of a strong showing at Euro 2020. He continued in this vein in his competitive debut last Sunday against Real Sociedad, a game Barcelona won 4-2. He assisted Gerard Pique for that crucial opening goal, a floated free-kick the Catalan veteran gratefully attacked and scored from. It was fitting given he was only registered for the game thanks to the wage-cut Pique had taken the day before.
Memphis is physically robust and carries himself with a real serenity, decked out in tattoos and unafraid of trying an audacious trick or two. Against La Real, he had a go at chipping the goalkeeper from near the halfway line as well as spinning an opposition defender with a beautiful little turn. He brings a playfulness to a team that greatly needs it.
Most important, of course, is on-field product. Memphis has hit double figures in both goals and assists in three of the last four Ligue 1 seasons he played for Lyon, recording an impressive 20 goals and 12 assists last campaign. Given Ansu Fati is scheduled to return from injury next month and Antoine Griezmann is in line to play a more central role this year, that’s an interesting front three to play with.
Memphis has already had a shot at a super club, and things didn’t work out. He joined Manchester United too young, and was burned by the experience, forced to rebuild his career in France. His life hasn’t been easy; he flirted with unsavoury characters growing up in the Netherlands, and his difficult relationship with his father is why he prefers to be called Memphis rather than Depay. He knows this is the chance of a lifetime, and he’s not going to waste it. He could be just what Barcelona need.