Manchester United need a new forward to replace Cristiano Ronaldo after his bitter exit last month. And reports in Spain have been talking up a potential return for Memphis Depay, who could follow in the footsteps of both Ronaldo and Paul Pogba in returning to Old Trafford. While some fans would understandably be wary of a deal, however, it’s one that would make perfect sense given the current market and timing.
Manchester United have, in recent years, re-signed both Pogba and Ronaldo.
Pogba came back in the summer transfer window of 2016 for a fee of £89million, four years after the midfielder had quit for Juventus on a free.
And then, last summer, United decided to bite the bait by bringing Ronaldo back – preventing the 37-year-old from moving to Manchester City in the process.
Now, reports in Spain have been talking up the prospect of Depay heading back to Old Trafford as well. Not for the first time, either.
United were linked with Depay during the final weeks of the summer transfer window, with Barcelona open to letting the 29-year-old go as they looked to balance their finances.
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A deal failed to materialise, with the Red Devils managing to bring in Antony from Ajax – paying a huge £86million for the player in the process.
Yet given the timing of Ronaldo’s departure, a deal to bring Depay back is one that would make perfect sense.
The Netherlands international previously moved to United back in 2015, arriving as a replacement for Angel Di Maria following the Argentina international’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain.
Depay was being compared to Ronaldo at the time and with good reason, too, having netted 28 goals from 40 appearances during his final season at PSV Eindhoven.
Ultimately, his spell at United failed to work out.
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Louis van Gaal and Wayne Rooney were two figures at the club who weren’t sold on Depay, with the Dutchman famously raising eyebrows when he turned up for an under-21s match in a Rolls Royce.
And Jose Mourinho offloaded the Netherlands international to Lyon just six months into his tenure, having deemed Depay not good enough for his squad.
In the years since, however, the 29-year-old has rebuilt his career.
He did well at Lyon, playing in a Ligue 1 that is so often dominated by Pari Saint-Germain, departing in 2021 with 76 goals to his name across all competitions.
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And though Barcelona struggled last term, Depay could still hold his head up high after ending the season as the club’s top scorer.
Obviously, with Barcelona strengthening their attack over the past year or so, Depay is no longer a key player in Catalonia.
And that’s why United would be wise to swoop and bring their former No 7 back to the Premier League.
Depay’s versatility across a front three would make him a shrewd option, with the Dutchman having the potential to click with the likes of Marcus Rashford and Antony up top.
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He would also be a good back-up to Anthony Martial who, despite being hampered by injuries, has been in ruthless form so far this season.
A short-term deal would suit everybody. Sign Depay until the end of the season and see how does, while the player himself could play himself into getting a longer contract.
Cody Gakpo is understandably appealing but could be too light for the Premier League. Likewise Joao Felix, of Atletico Madrid, who has also been linked.
Depay deserves a second chance at United. And with Ronaldo no longer at the club, the Red Devils could certainly do a lot worse…