When time is called on Memphis Depay’s Manchester United career, it will be his display at Old Trafford against Club Brugge that will be remembered as the point it all started.
Scoring United’s first two goals and creating Marouane Fellaini’s crucial third in added time, Depay stole the show for Louis van Gaal’s side in the Champions League play-off first leg, in just his third appearance for the club.
In reality, however, it was the outing on the infamous Friday Night Football against Aston Villa where things really clicked for the Dutchman and his teammates.
Moved to the wide left position after debuting in the number 10 role against Tottenham, Depay was a lively customer for Tim Sherwood’s defence to deal with. He mixed out-to-in runs with bursts down the touchline superbly, but would have been frustrated by absent finishing.
His only frustrations upon the final whistle against Brugge on what is sure to be the first of many European nights for the young star, is that he wasn’t able to bag a hat-trick.
Similarities between Depay’s eye-catching turn and Wayne Rooney’s Champions League treble upon signing for the Old Trafford club are obvious, but in truth, there hasn’t been a player of Depay’s style among United’s ranks for some time.
In the BT Sport studio during the Brugge game, Rio Ferdinand praised Depay for his movement off the ball, suggesting that too many modern wingers want the ball played to feet so they can dazzle with step overs.
Depay though, is intent on making a run for teammates to pass on to, heading for goal and exploiting the gaps between opposing full-back and centre-half.
His second goal against the Belgians, a delightful curler, came from that exact piece of movement and the former PSV youngster spurned a one-on-one opportunity against Villa after making a similar run.
With Wayne Rooney dropping deep to pick up the ball and Juan Mata drifting infield from the right to flex his creative muscles, Depay will often be the outlet forward pass for the Red Devils and it is that movement that will see the Dutchman score bundles of goals for his new club.
Ladbrokes make Depay 7/2 to score over 16 league goals this season and 5/1 to score from outside the box this weekend.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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