On match days at Old Trafford songs by John Denver and the Stone Roses are played over the tannoy system. But will Memphis Depay’s arrival from PSV Eindhoven in the summer mean we’ll hear Elvis Presley’s “Memphis Tennessee” or Marc Con’s “Walking in Memphis” ring out around the Theatre of Dreams next season? The Dutchman certainly has an evocative name but what will he add to United’s squad?
Depay, who has scored 27 goals in 38 appearances this season, is one of the hottest young talents in European football. United fought off competition from Liverpool and PSG to secure his signature and Louis van Gaal, who coached Depay for Holland, is convinced he can become a United legend.
Goalscoring wingers are worth their weight in gold and, from Ryan Giggs to Cristiano Ronaldo, United boast a rich tradition of exciting wide-men. Ashley Young and Juan Mata have both enjoyed success in wide positions this season but Van Gaal is determined to build a squad strong enough to challenge for the title. United are [4.5] to win the Premier League next season and, if Depay makes an immediate impact, those odds will shorten.
That said, fans might question why United have signed a winger when they need to strengthen in defence, central midfield and up front where Wayne Rooney is overburdened. Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels heads Van Gaal’s wanted list of defenders but United also need a natural right-back as Rafael struggles for fitness and Antonio Valencia is not up to the task. Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne is one possibility in that position and, with Luke Shaw on the other flank, United could be fast and penetrating down the flanks.
Hummels’ Dortmund team-mate Ilkay Gundogan could arrive to bolster United’s midfield. Ander Herrera has grown into his role but United’s slump in form has coincided with the loss of Michael Carrick and they’re too dependent on the 33-year-old England international. United will face competition from several top clubs in race to sign Gundogan.
They might also be preparing a bid for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, although as the 22-year-old prepares to take on Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, he should question whether he really wants to join a team that are battling to finish fourth in the Premier League. United let Pogba leave for nothing in 2012 so, if they do launch an enormous bid to bring him back, then it will, as much as anything else, be an indictment of the club’s youth policy in the final years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure.
As well as bringing in big names this summer, Van Gaal must resolve to do two other things. First, he should ensure David De Gea stays at United and, second, he must get more from the players he brought in last August.
Chief among these is Angel Di Maria. The Argentine has endured an appalling second half of the season but, the curse of South Americans at Old Trafford aside, he remains a great player. I hope Di Maria will be an important part of the United team in 2015/16 and, if he really starts flying, they might even play Blondie’s “Maria” on match days.