European Under-21 Championships – One to Watch: Memphis Depay, Netherlands

Memphis Depay

Age: 19

Club: PSV Eindhoven

Nation: Netherlands

A winger with electric pace, Memphis Depay, at just 19-years-old is making a huge name for himself in the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven. Usually deployed on the left wing, Depay uses his pace and belligerent running style to cut inside and hit shots from the edge of the box. He has also been utilised further forward as a striker.

This ability to run and vision to cut inside have enabled him to score goals wherever he plays, bagging eight from 16 appearances for the under-17 national side and an even more impressive seven in 10 for the under-19s.

Depay got his chance at senior level for his club side after impressing coach Phillip Cocu at a reserve team trial in 2011. He was officially implemented in the senior side the very next day and went on to score four goals in eight appearances in his debut season.

This year for PSV, Depay made 19 appearances but found the net just three times. However he has had a frustrating time of it this year, making 17 of those appearances as a second-half substitute. Nevertheless, there is plenty of room for his stock to grow further.

Depay was brought up by his mother in his hometown of Moordrecht, having not seen his father from birth, although it is because of his estranged father that he is also eligible to play for Ghana.

He learned his skills on the streets, towns and squares of Moordecht, then later joined Sparta Rotterdam at the age of just nine. He stated that it was in the Rotterdam and Moordecht streets and with junior team VV Moorabbin that he honed his impressive dribbling style.

The pacey winger worked his way up from these humble beginnings to play a big part in helping his national side to the under 17s European Championships in 2011.

During the tournament the teenager’s side went all the way to the final after topping their group without conceding. They then won a crackerjack final against a tough German outfit in a 5-2 goal-fest, with Depay scoring a superb solo effort.

After this tournament and his debut domestic season in 2011, Depay was offered a five-year contract with PSV, which shows exactly what the club and the backroom staff think of the youngster.

However, Depay’s career has been far from smooth sailing and his cocky attitude has given rise to a few critics, one of which was ex-PSV manager Fred Rutten, who became concerned that the teenager was committing too much time to his budding rap career rather than his football.

He has to choose between rap and football, you cannot bet on two horses,” said Rutten as Depay had began missing training sessions in favour of rap concerts.

Depay once again showed what happens when the over-exuberance of youth and over confidence are mixed when he displayed his displeasure at the lack of playing time he was getting this past season.

However, if a footballer is going to be cocky, they had better be able to back it up and that is exactly what this young man is capable of. PSV technical director Marcel Brands said of him: “Memphis is one of the Netherlands brightest talents and a very passionate and ambitious kid.

Feyenoord manager Ronald Koeman added: “He plays like he has won 10 European Cups,” while Dutch football writer Michiel Jongsma says of the teenager: “His good right foot, technique, pace and eye for goal should make him a fine, fine player for the PSV side.

While Depay does look like he can be very much an acquired taste off the pitch with his carefree nature, he is another fantastic talent coming off the Dutch football production line.

His electric pace, wonderful dribbling skills and ferocious right foot make him a crucial player for the Netherlands at this year European Under-21 Championships and a one to watch for the tournament.

Moreover, if he can produce performances at this level, he may start to catch the eye of some of Europe’s bigger clubs.

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