Every week at The Center Circle, we are highlighting a different player in a feature we call “On the Spot”. We’ll take a look at superstars, underrated gems, aging veterans, and young unknowns who should be known. We’ll peruse their club and international careers, taking note of their teams, statistics, and highlight reels. We’ll illuminate their strengths and weaknesses and comment on their personalities and reputations. It will be some fun. If there is anyone you want to see “On the Spot”, feel free to comment below.
Dutch midfielder Memphis Depay has been heralded as one of the must-see young talents in European competition. The 21-year-old PSV Eindhoven player has caught the eye of millions of fans with his flashy playing style and bag full of tricks. Clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid have reportedly been competing for player’s signature so his days with PSV may be numbered.
On the senior level, Memphis Depay has only worn one team’s kit. Aged just 17 years old at the time, Depay had worked his way up from the PSV reserves to make his senior debut. Coming on as a substitute in the KNVB Cup, the attacking midfielder was able to start his career with a bang scoring two goals against his amateur competition. Despite the two-goal debut, it took several more months for the young winger to get a chance on the Eredivisie stage.
Finally, five months after his cup debut, Depay finally stepped on the field for league play. However, his debut came as a 90th minute substitute so chances of another scoring debut were slim-to-none. Another month passed before the midfielder saw action again, but Depay made no mistake the second time around, as he was able to notch his first-ever league goal despite only seeing the field for 11 minutes. All of the teenager’s appearances in the 2011-12 campaign were as a substitute, with his longest cameo coming in a 32 minute display against AZ Alkmaar. The end of his first season with the senior side gave the Dutch player his first taste of silverware as PSV won the KNVB Cup.
2012-13 saw Depay continue his role outside of the starting 11. Out of his 19 league appearances, only three were starts. The duration of his appearances did increase, however, as he was subbed on for the entire second half several times throughout the season. The lack of a consistent 90 minute outings limited Depay’s scoring opportunities and his sophomore season ended with just three goals in all competitions.
Breaking into the Eleven
In his first ever Champions League appearance, and also the first game of his third year with the first team, the midfielder scored an absolute screamer to introduce himself to the world. This highlight reel goal was just the start of what would be Depay’s breakthrough season. At just 19 years old, the attacking midfielder finally established himself in PSV’s starting lineup. All 39 appearances for Depay came as a starter and the increased playing time and the two prior years of professional experience set the stage for his most productive season yet.
In 32 league appearances, Depay scored 12 goals and also registered seven assists. The midfielder was also able to notch a goal and an assist in the Europa League after PSV were knocked out of the Champions League. These impressive stat lines earned Depay his first ever call up the full Dutch national team for their friendlies against Hungary and Turkey in October, 2011. Despite only playing for two minutes in those games, the 19-year-old was again called up for games against Japan and Colombia, where he managed to work himself into the starting lineup against the South American team.
A consistent starting role for PSV earned Depay a spot in the Netherlands’ squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. In his four appearances in the biggest tournament in the world, the 20-year-old Depay scored two goals, including the winner in a thrilling 3-2 victory over a tough Australian side with this long-range strike.
After finishing third in the World Cup, Depay got straight back to work with PSV. In the first two games of the 2014-15 season, the Dutch international scored back-to-back braces, and in the third game of the season Depay scored again against Dutch giant Ajax. With over a month left in the season, the midfielder has already topped his 2013-14 goal total with 23 goals in all competitions.
Style of Play
You have to be a special player to earn the nickname “Dutch Ronaldo.” Memphis Depay is able to electrify stadiums and baffle opposing defenders with his Ronaldo-esque flair and pace. To put even more fear into Eredivisie opponents, Depay can also strike wonder goals from distance. At just 21 years old, it is still way too early to predict if Depay can continue to improve his talents and get to a level even close to Ronaldo, but at the pace he’s going right now, Dutch fans everywhere will have all the faith in the world that he will turn into one of the world’s best.