Memphis Depay refused to consider leaving PSV Eindhoven until he had won a Dutch title; Berend Scholten gives the lowdown on Manchester United FC's new striker.
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Having helped PSV Eindhoven win their first Dutch championship since 2008, the Eredivisie's top marksman Memphis Depay has secured a "dream" move to England. The Dutch international will join Manchester United FC in June, linking up again with former Oranje coach Louis van Gaal, most likely in the UEFA Champions League.
Despite strong interest from a host of European heavyweights, the 21-year-old striker had vowed to help PSV end a seven-year wait for the Eredivisie crown before deciding on his future. "I have not become a Dutch champion yet. That is a must for me, it's why I am staying," he said. Depay kept his word, his 21 goals (and counting) firing his side to the title.
After clinching the league, PSV revealed their leading scorer was garnering attention from the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool FC. However, most in his homeland thought a transfer to Manchester United and a reunion with Van Gaal would aid his development – a switch that was realised today.
Born on 13 February 1994 near Rotterdam, Depay joined home-town team VV Moordrecht aged six. He arrived at PSV six years later after catching the eye of scouts during a three-year stint at Sparta Rotterdam. At 17, the forward made his first-team debut for PSV under coach Fred Rutten in the Dutch Cup – notching twice in a victory over VVSB amateurs on 21 September 2011. "At a club like PSV it is important not to have stage fright," Rutten said afterwards. "If you cannot handle the pressure, it will get difficult." Depay duly maintained his calm and confident demeanour with the Boeren.
The following campaign – under Dick Advocaat – the rising star became a regular squad member although he had to wait until 2013/14 for his breakthrough. Having led PSV to Dutch Cup glory as caretaker coach in 2012, former midfielder Phillip Cocu took permanent charge a year later – having previously presided over the youth side. Cocu, who had claimed four titles in two spells as a PSV player, immediately showed his confidence in Depay, making him a feature on the left wing after Dries Mertens's departure for SSC Napoli.
Meanwhile, at international level, the talented attacker quickly rose through the ranks, culminating in a UEFA European Under-17 Championship triumph in 2011. A call-up to the senior fold followed, Depay making his Netherlands bow under Van Gaal in October 2013 against Turkey.
Impressed by his potential, Van Gaal named Depay in his 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil where the youngster made a telling contribution. He ensured a last-16 berth for the Netherlands when his speculative shot deceived Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to seal a 3-2 success in Group B. The strike, which followed his assist for Robin van Persie's equaliser, made Depay the youngest-ever Oranje goalscorer at a World Cup. His efforts were acknowledged as he was shortlisted for the tournament's best young player award.
Having coached Depay last summer, the former FC Bayern München boss clearly holds the player, and his temperament, in high regard. Van Gaal evidently believes his latest signing will fulfil his potential, moving swiftly to acquire the gifted and pacey front man. United coach Albert Stuivenberg, with whom he won the U17 championship, should help Depay settle in England. Given Van Gaal's faith in him, and his confident manner, Depay looks set to flourish at Old Trafford.