His transfer could quickly be pinned on the happy qualifier of a good pick for this winter transfer window 2023. Memphis Depay, Dutch international who will celebrate his 29th birthday in three weeks, joined Atlético Madrid for the trifle, all things considered, of 3 million euros. In view of the astronomical sums spent by other clubs, often English, for hopefuls, most of whom will not see a bit of grass, it’s a good catch, since the player we are talking about has proven himself in several prestigious clubs. . There’s no doubt: Memphis Depay has the pedigree to succeed with the jersey rojiblanco on the back.
Joao Félix’s departure from Chelsea, completed a few days earlier, even gave him a place of choice among Diego Simeone’s attacking elements. A place for which he therefore renounced his status at FC Barcelona, and for which he spoke directly with Xavi, so that the latter would let him pack his bags in the direction of the capital. A place in the squad is one thing; but on the ground, what role will the Dutchman be able to play in the well-defined system of “Cholo”?
I see him as Diego Costa
The Argentinian technician spoke about this at a press conference, painting a comparison that says a lot about the hopes he has for the ex-blaugrana. “I see him a bit like Diego Costa, who started as a second striker and ended up at number 9 because he was explosive, powerful, and had an eye for goal.he explained. And I think Memphis showed that in France, in Lyon.”
Thicker in the duels and further from the style of Antoine Griezmann than Joao Félix, more complete in the game than Morata, a Memphis Depay in form would indeed represent a valuable player for Diego Simeone, capable of playing in several positions of the offensive. His only outing before this Thursday with the Matelassiers, against Valladolid last Saturday, also suggested that the right-hander would settle in the left axis of the Madrid attack, his preferential zone between the corridor he liked to Lyon, and the role of goalscorer in which he also often evolved.
João Félix is not Griezmann: ‘There is an incompatibility with Simeone’
It would be enough for the Dutchman to get back on his feet, after a few months spent in the closet in Barcelona, to become one of the darlings of the Civitas Metropolitano. This is the first step in the process, identified by Simeone: “He is full of enthusiasm, and he wants to get back to his best shape. We will work with him to bring him back there, like in Lyon where he demonstrated all his abilities and physical strength.“. But even at his best physical level, does the former OL captain have the weapons to fit into the mold of Atlético Simeone version?
A strong character, the double-edged sword
The question needs to be asked ; first of all, since as creative and efficient as he may be, Memphis Depay has in the past also been able to shine for escapades outside football. His reputation as a wonderkid at Manchester United sometimes returned to his head like a boomerang, when the Dutchman did not convince on the pitch but landed for reserve meetings in a Rolls Royce and cowboy hat.
Error of youth, one will say. But his great pride also led him to confront his coaches, like Bruno Génésio, in early November 2018 after an unexpected stint on the sidelines. It is hard to imagine how the sauce could take, if the player is not body and soul devoted to the spiritual master of Atlético who is Diego Simeone.
Memphis Depay and Diego SImeone (Atlético Madrid) against Valladolid, January 25, 2023
Credit: Getty Images
More prosaically, the balance of the efforts to be made on the ground specific to the “Cholo”, which is perfectly suited to a Griezmann for example, could take time to infuse in the mind of Depay, who remained the X factor in Lyon and whose the defensive contribution is real, but could prove to be limited for Simeone. The dose of effort that the Dutchman will have to provide at the forefront of the attack to be dubbed by the Argentinian will perhaps be the highest of his entire career, and could therefore affect his weight in attack.
It therefore seems just as plausible to see the Dutchman blend into the background and pile up the goals that Atlético lacked this fall, as to find him persona non grata at the Civitas Metropolitano in six months, unable to adapt to the “cholismo” and what it implies of resilience and self-giving. Depay’s integration into the Simeone project reveals flaws, and perhaps that’s what makes it so exciting to follow.