Memphis Depay: Who is Man Utd's new £30m forward?

Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay has joined Manchester United on a four-year deal, with an option for an extra season

Manchester United are acquiring the most prolific young forward Europe currently has to offer this summer.

With a goal tally that matches his age, 21-year-old Memphis Depay is the youngest player to have scored more than 15 goals in the continent's top 10 leagues this season.

The Red Devils are also snapping up one of the most sought-after attacking talents in the world, with senior figures at Paris St-Germain and Liverpool reported to be disappointed that the Netherlands international will be at Old Trafford next season.

But what exactly are United getting for their reported £30m outlay to Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven? And where is he likely to fit in to Louis van Gaal's starting XI?

Who is Memphis Depay?

Depay left hometown club Moordrecht for Sparta Rotterdam in 2003 at the age of nine and then joined PSV three years later. It was a move that was vital to his development, according to Dutch journalist Thijs Slegers, who covers PSV for Voetbal International magazine.

"Memphis was hanging round the streets of some of Rotterdam's bad areas with people who were a bad influence on him," Slegers told BBC Sport. "So when PSV came for him he realised that even at 12 he had to break away from these people.

"Life in Eindhoven is a lot more sedate than Rotterdam - Memphis came from the wild west in comparison."

Frank Rutten
Frank Rutten was a huge influence on Depay in his formative years at PSV Eindhoven

Depay has a colourful back story and plays with the name Memphis on his shirt having dropped his surname as a result of a strained relationship with his Ghanaian father, who separated from his Dutch mother when he was four.

Slegers says Depay's "off-the-pitch antics" when growing up - prompted by a "tough" upbringing - had to be curbed by PSV.

He made his debut aged 17 in a Dutch Cup match in 2011 having been straightened out, partially at least, by then PSV assistant Fred Rutten.

"Rutten knew how to press the right buttons and told Memphis to stop to doing strange things, grow up and focus on football. He was a key figure," says Slegers.

"He was hanging around with some rap artists and he was in music videos and stuff. People the club thought he should not be with."

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Memphis Depay at the World Cup

Once described as "very angry" by a life coach PSV provided to him as a youngster, Depay is big into body art and has the words "dream chaser" tattooed across his chest.

Such lofty aspirations came to the fore when news of his move to United broke on Thursday and he tweeted: "I always say; Dream, Believe, Achieve. I was dreaming and believing of becoming the champions of the Eredivisie with PSV and we achieved it. Now it's time to set my goals again on winning trophies with Manchester United."

Depay is not short of confidence, according to Slegers, who has watched his development at close quarters and got to know the player.

"Memphis is also a very individual person. He recruited his own financial advisers when he was young because he was spending money on silly things, and his own nutritionist as well," he adds.

"In some ways he's still a kid and an idiot but if you are look at what he's done, making those steps into the big world, that is a really professional thing."

Why are Manchester United signing him?

Simply put, because he's quick, he's strong, he's skilful and he scores goals.

A record of 38 goals in 88 league appearances for PSV may not stack up that impressively against the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but when you consider that 21 of those have come in 28 games this season his promise becomes apparent.

Slegers says his contribution has been a major factor in PSV winning their first Eredivisie title since 2008, and believes he has all the attributes to be a success in England.

"He has a lot of qualities suited to the Premier League," Slegers said. "He is fast, he is strong, and so he can win the sprint duels with almost anyone. Mentally he is strong.

"His technique is OK, not impressive but OK. Sometimes in the last phase he lacks a little bit with his decision making."

Memphis Depay league career stats
SeasonAppearancesStartsMinutes playedGoals scoredMinutes per goalAssists
2011-1280130343.331
2012-1320249222463
2013-143232270312225.257
2014-1528282394211144

Depay has also impressed on the international stage. Last summer, he scored two goals for the Netherlands at the World Cup finals in Brazil, despite not being first choice for the side that reached the semi-finals.

Slegers says: "Memphis is full of self-confidence and self-belief. His background has shaped who he is - he plays with no fear, no hang ups."

But, the journalist warns, he is not quite the finished product.

"Memphis needs to develop a lot things in his play. I think he's ready for the Premier League, maybe I don't think he's ready for Manchester United yet," Slegers adds.

"But he will be a success at that level. It will depend on chances he gets in that first season with United."

Where does he fit in to Louis van Gaal's side?

Depay's record this season is even more impressive when you consider that he has not even been PSV's main striker this season.

He has largely operated on the left side of a front three, with Luuk de Jong taking the central spot.

Van Gaal has utilised a number of formations at United this season, but his favoured set-up is 4-3-3, which should suit Depay's instinct to cut inside from the left in pursuit of shooting opportunities.

Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay worked with Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal at the World Cup with the Netherlands

"He can play left, right or in the centre. He's versatile but his best position is left outside, cutting inside to the right side," Slegers says.

"His left foot isn't that impressive, and he shoots all the time which is irritating for some people - there is no one in the Eredivisie who shoots at goal more than Memphis. Maybe with not the greatest conversion, but he still scores goals."

He may thrive on Van Gaal's no-nonsense approach to training as well.

Slegers recalls: "Last year Memphis gave an interview with me during a tough time for PSV and I said 'what's the problem here?'

"He said 'our coach needs to be tougher with us' which caused a few problems when the coach read it. Van Gaal is tough and that's what Memphis needs at the moment.

"Van Gaal is always looking for players to model into his own insight. What he sees in Memphis is a player that wants to learn from him and Memphis likes the way Van Gaal works."

What has been said about Depay?

Southampton boss and former Dutch international Ronald Koeman: "He has had a great season. He still has to develop himself. It will be tough for him because the Premier League is tough in a physical and mental way.

"It's a big step for him. But he's a great talent, a fast player and a very good signing for Manchester United."

Dutch former Wigan and Portsmouth defender Arjan de Zeeuw: "It's a massive step, but I think he'll do well. People regard him as a little bit arrogant, a little bit cocky, but I think he is a very good player, a very promising player, a very strong, very quick player and he's got some skill.

"He's been the player of the season really in Holland. He stood out for PSV, he's been the main guy who got them the championship this year - without him they would have struggled."

PSV Eindhoven sporting director Marcel Brands: "Memphis has gone through all the teams of the PSV youth academy and has played an important part in the national title this year.

"He's a wonderful exponent of our training and will make a nice transition to a magnificent club in a beautiful competition."

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