Despite a brief bromance with Luke Shaw down United’s left wing, Memphis Depay flattered to deceive in Manchester.
Louis van Gaal’s £25m signing from PSV departed for Lyon in a deal worth up to £21.6m this afternoon, after just 18 months at Old Trafford.
There was always a willingness from United fans for Depay to succeed, but there seemed to be an inevitability to his departure under José Mourinho, who used him on just seven occasions this season. The Dutch winger, it seemed, was either not good enough for United or simply wasn’t José Mourinho’s cup of tea.
However, speaking at his press conference ahead of United’s fixture with Stoke tomorrow, Mourinho was quick to dispel a number of misconceptions about Depay, and revealed he still holds out hope of re-signing him from Lyon, should Depay excel in France:
Memphis is a fantastic professional, it would be wrong for anyone to say or think otherwise.
I know people have an image of him in an amazing car or dressed in a certain way but that image is totally wrong. He worked hard to get a chance at this club and I have only good things to say about him.
We wish he plays well at Lyon and comes back because everyone here likes him.
Potentially he is still a very good player. Mr. Van Gaal and Manchester United did well to buy him.
He knew him from the national team. He was very young in the World Cup and had flashes of top quality.
He did not succeed in the 18 months he was here but I think it is very important for the club to keep control of his talent.
Mourinho explained that it was simple competition for places on United’s wing which ultimately put paid to Depay’s career at Old Trafford.
He also answered questions as to why he recently claimed that both Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin, who recently joined Everton, wouldn’t be sold in the January window – or more pertinently, why he eventually changed his mind and saw them out the door.
Everyone here liked [Depay]. The only problem was that as a winger we have seven players for two positions. Even when I was trying to rotate and rest some players I found it difficult to give him game time. Basically I have six possibilities, including Wayne Rooney, in front of him for those positions.
Lyon and Everton made good offers, they fought to secure the players they wanted. When that happens it would not be human to stand in their way. Players need game time and we allowed them to go because the right offers arrived. It would be wrong to do anything else when the offer is correct.
It’s a somewhat surprising send-off from Mourinho, who many presumed wasn’t overly keen of Depay’s flashy lifestyle and minimal on-field returns.
Still just 22, the former PSV winger should thrive in Ligue 1. As to whether or not he’ll improve sufficiently to earn a move back to United remains to be seen; the club, however, have at least learned their lesson from the Paul Pogba saga, and will have first option should Depay finally fulfil his significant potential in France.