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.
“Everyone has been very nice and they have made it easy for me,” Memphis said to El Periodico in comments carried by Barca Centre. “[Gerard] Pique has helped me a lot because his English is good. With [Jordi] Alba I also have a lot of fun. Of course, Frenkie [de Jong] and [Sergino] Dest also, because I already knew them. It’s a nice dressing room.
“I didn’t even get to know [Lionel Messi]. He came late to pre-season because of the break after the Copa America and I couldn’t even say hello to him. I know what [Ronald Koeman] wants from me. I know what I have to do, there’s a chemistry between us. That’s very important.
“I try to give something extra on the pitch, something important for the team, to bring joy to the game. That’s why the connection with the fans is incredible. It makes me feel fantastic and I hope it continues. I’ll give everything on the pitch for them to enjoy.”
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.