In Eredivisie in the Netherlands over the past nine months, there has been nobody hotter than Memphis.
Memphis Depay, who has agreed to join Manchester United next month subject to a satisfactory medical, leads the Dutch top flight’s goalscorers, with 21 from his 28 matches.
PSV Eindhoven, who could earn millions from the sale of the 21-year-old, have finished as league champions for the first time in seven years thanks in large part to his marksmanship, creativity and speed.
Yet this prolific scorer is the same man glimpsed at last summer’s World Cup playing, at times, as a wing-back on the left flank of the Holland team guided to the semi-finals by Louis Van Gaal, the manager Depay will be working with at United.
That versatility is an asset, one nurtured by the Dutch academy system through which Depay has made his rapid progress.
His stronger foot is his right, though he has for much of his senior career been most effective attacking from the left, and cutting inside.
His shooting from distance can be explosive and he has a powerful strike from direct free kicks.
On the ball he is exciting, a clever dribbler with some eye-catching manoeuvres, including a studied “roulette” reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane.
He entertained spectators at March’s Holland versus Spain friendly with a vivid one, disentangling himself from three close Spanish markers with a back-heel and smooth change of direction.
Guus Hiddink, who took over from Van Gaal as the Netherlands coach, declared at the beginning of what has been a difficult Euro 2016 qualifying campaign for the Netherlands that Depay “has all the potential to become the Dutch national team’s leading footballer”.
Hiddink said he had been surprised by both the player’s array of gifts and his hard work.
“Now that I am working with him, I see he has more potential than I imagined,” Hiddink said, “and that he is studious and keen to absorb things, and improve.
“I had thought he might be a bit distant, but that’s not the case.”
That perception may have come from a reputation Depay — the son of a Ghanaian father, with whom he apparently has little contact, and a Dutch mother — acquired as a teenager.
PSV reportedly assigned him a “life coach” to help him through some anger issues that seem not to have significantly interrupted his progress as a footballer.
He was a star of the Dutch team who won the 2011 European under-17 championship and he made his Eredivisie debut for PSV two weeks after his 18th birthday.
His two goals for Holland at last summer’s World Cup — against Australia and Chile — came in only his second and third competitive internationals.
Van Gaal’s belief in him goes back a while and the Dutch manager’s faith in compatriots is also a trait of his coaching style. For example, Daley Blind has already arrived at Old Trafford under Van Gaal’s watch.
When Van Gaal coached Barcelona he brought in several players from his previous club, Ajax, and, although United are unlikely to be turned quite as orange as the Barcelona of Van Gaal in the late 1990s, the arrival of Depay poses questions about which United players will be shunted down the hierarchy, or away from the club.
Assuming Depay has been bought for his flair at outside and inside left, Angel Di Maria, Ashley Young and Adnan Januszaj will be looking over the shoulders as much as looking forward to a close-up view of their new teammate’s slick footwork in pre-season practice.
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