April 23, 2021

Man Utd

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John Murtough could atone for Mourinho’s biggest Man Utd transfer mistake

3 min read

Manchester United could return for an old flame in the summer transfer window, with Memphis Depay set to leave Lyon on a free transfer.

The Dutchman’s three-and-a-half-year stay in Ligue 1 is set to end this summer, making the 27-year-old one of the most attractive free agents on the market.

Depay arrived at Manchester United under much fanfare following a blockbuster campaign for PSV Eindhoven. The stocky forward was the face of the Louis van Gaal revolution and his eye-catching free-kicks and long-range strikes was expected to lift the heartrates inside Old Trafford.

He was initially handed the number nine on the club’s pre-season tour shirt but Angel di Maria’s subsequent exit for Paris Saint-Germain left the famous number seven shirt vacant and Depay showed his character by grabbing it with both hands.

Despite the best intention of the player and United, Depay lasted only 18 months at Old Trafford, scoring only seven goals in 53 appearances during his spell at the club.

United knew there was untapped potential with Depay and therefore they inserted a buy-back clause whilst recouping the bulk of their £25million outlay in the process. Smart business for a player that needed a change of scenery, away from the intoxicating pressures of playing for United.

Depay was a raw talent at United. His best position was undecided, though he often played from the left-wing despite having the physical attributes to operate as a central striker. In many ways, it was a similar opening to Cristiano Ronaldo’s time at United. Of course, the two ended their time with the club in very different manners.

Since moving to Lyon, Depay has aged (obviously) and matured. He is the club captain and respects the responsibility on his shoulders, though the maverick-like ability to win a game with a moment of magic remains. Operating in more central positions, he’s scored 71 goals and provided 54 assists in 173 games.

Depay has spoken in the media about his desire to return to a top European club. Barcelona seems his most likely destination given his relationship with ex-national team boss Ronald Koeman and the financial crisis the Catalan club are in, making Depay a very attractive prospect as a free agent.

MEN Sport understands Erling Haaland is Manchester United’s top transfer priority in attack, with both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jon Murough agreeing that the 20-year-old should be their long-term striker.

However, should Borussia Dortmund dig in their heels, as they did last summer with Jadon Sancho, Haaland could remain at the Signal Iduna Park.

On Monday, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke reiterated their stance: “We do not have a parallel plan. We will discuss this with Erling, his father and his agent Mino Raiola.

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“We also want him to be happy to stay with us, to score goals for BVB next year with conviction. There is no alternative plan.”

If Edinson Cavani does leave, Depay could be a potential short-term alternative option for United. His versatility would offer Solskjaer another option in attack and at 27, he still has plenty to prove, not least in the Premier League.

It would be a low-cost deal, relatively speaking, with a potentially big sell-on value, whilst keeping competition for places high.

Whilst Haaland remains United’s main transfer priority, a budget move for Depay could offer a perfect reunion.

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