The five changes Memphis Depay made to go from Man Utd nightmare to becoming Barcelona's saviour

MEMPHIS DEPAY left Manchester United in January 2017, having failed to make an impact at Old Trafford.

Viewed as an underwhelming presence in attack and, incorrectly as he has asserted, a party boy – few Red Devils fans were upset when they decided to take a £10million hit on shipping him out to Lyon.

But three-and-a-half years later Memphis, 26, looks a man reborn – diligently taking responsibility at Lyon and consistently producing superb performances.

Some had written off the Dutch forward when United gave up on him after just 18 months, but such has been his turnaround that Barcelona are now on the brink of signing him for £28m – bringing him back to the big time.

Let's take a look at the factors that have seen him rise back to prominence in European football.

MAN UTD NEWS LIVE: Click here for the latest United news

'FEELING FREE'

When Depay decided he wanted out of Old Trafford, he was mature beyond his 22 years in making sure that he made the right move.

While many at the time felt that Lyon was quite a step down for the mercurial talent, Memphis himself was confident that he'd made the right call, largely down to the style of play he'd be able to fit into.

Giels Brouwer, founder of sports analytics company SciSports, was consulted by Depay when looking for the best option.

And he revealed on his Reddit: "The agent of Memphis asked us to visit Memphis in Manchester where he was living at that moment.

"I went there with two colleagues and we watched a Champions League game on his couch. In our discussion about the next step in his career, he was really open about what he wanted and didn't want.

"He wanted to play 'more freely', he wanted to be 'important for the team' and wanted to play in a big five competition with a coach that had a clear playing style.

"We translated these questions into data searches. We looked for instance at his playing style at PSV and the Dutch national team and compared that with the playing style of Man United. We noticed that he was involved with a lot more defensive actions at Man United."

STAR STATUS

Memphis started just one game in the first half of the 2016-17 season for United, with manager Jose Mourinho clearly feeling unable to depend on his talented star.

And as Brouwer revealed, Memphis wanted to be "important" over almost anything – and he's certainly been just that at Lyon.

Such has been their reliance on him, particularly under current manager Rudi Garcia, that he has been given the captain's armband.

And rather than a rarely-used winger, Memphis is often now deployed as a central striker, shouldering much of Lyon's attacking burden – particularly in the Champions League.

Despite the emergence of ex-Celtic forward Moussa Dembele, Depay is the main man at Groupama Stadium, having scored 57 and assisted 43 goals in 140 appearances for the Ligue 1 side.

Missing the talismanic Depay for much of last season with a ruptured cruciate ligament was a key factor in Lyon failing to qualify for Europe.

PLAYING STYLE

Again as Brouwer cited, Depay wanted to "play with freedom" – not something always associated with being a Mourinho winger.

He wanted to find a club in which he could find that comfort within a system, and he managed that at Lyon, initially under former manager Bruno Genesio.

In April 2018 he told OLTV: "I think I'm at my best right now. I feel very free on the field. I have confidence, and that's good. I don't think too much about the pitch. I'm just enjoying the moment.

"I've felt the difference since the beginning of the season. It's important for me to play every match the best I can.

"First and foremost, I want to play well. I want to be at my best every game. The rest will come naturally."

Mainly featuring centrally alongside one or both of strikers Karl Toko Ekambi and Dembele, Depay is given that "freedom" in abundance to make things happen for his side – hence his amazing output.

MORE RESPONSIBILITY

Depay was, perhaps unfairly, seen as a bit of a liability at Manchester United.

From Wayne Rooney supposedly telling him not to turn up to Under-21 games in any "fancy stuff", and allegations of being a "party boy" – Depay struggled at Old Trafford.

But in an interview with The Times last month, he insisted: "I remember some of the quotes about me, like "party boy''. Pure lies.

"I went out only once in one-and-a-half years in Manchester – and it wasn't even fun."

Not only has Depay now fully matured into a brilliant player, but he also possesses leadership qualities in abundance – earning the captain's armband at Lyon as well as the universal respect of his team-mates.

And such is his manager Garcia's admiration for his skipper, he recently said: "Aside from that, for a lot of my great players, if they have the option to join a club that is built to win the Champions League, and we came up against a few of them in the Champions League this year, I will personally take them there in my car."

INCREASED OUTPUT

As alluded to earlier, Depay's output has increased immeasurably.

Some will point to the step down in league, but his consistency should be absolutely nothing to be sniffed at.

And he's also delivered in Champions League pressure moments.

At Manchester United he only managed seven goals and six assists in 53 games under Louis van Gaal and then Mourinho.

But at Lyon he has contributed to a combined 100 goals in 140 outings.

And last season he came of age in the Champions League too – scoring six times in eight appearances – including against RB Leipzig and Juventus.

Source: Read Full Article