Man Utd flop Depay’s chance to prove he’s ready for a big club again

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After a disappointing run of form for the Ligue 1 side, the Netherlands star faces a potentially career-defining match at Camp Nou

Lyon attacker Memphis Depay has made no secret of his belief that his talents deserve the greatest stage.

Having had a taste of the big time playing for one of the game's most famous clubs in the form of Manchester United, the 25-year-old Netherlands international is of the opinion that he warrants another shot with an elite outfit.

Of course, it is only just over two years since he left Old Trafford with his tail between his legs, sent packing to Lyon to try to rekindle what seemed like an ailing career.

If his confidence took a hit with that relative demotion, it is not apparent.

“I want to go to a club like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich,” he told Helden , speaking in January.

“I want to go to a city that suits me and a club that suits me, to a team that really wants to play football.”

Time remains on the side of the former PSV prodigy, of course, but on the field he has not yet proved himself worthy of such a challenge.

Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Barcelona at Camp Nou, however, is a stage on which he could transform his career.

Memphis Depay Lyon PS

His form for Lyon this season has been solid but not spectacular. A return of six goals and eight assists in Ligue 1 are not numbers readily associated with an attacker chasing a move to Europe’s top clubs, particularly as he has been pushed into the shadows by Nabil Fekir.

In recent weeks, meanwhile, even Moussa Dembele has proven himself a more reliable offensive weapon.

Furthermore, closer inspection of his numbers reveal that they are more damning than they initially appear.

Since December 1, he has only one goal and one assist in league play, while over the Ligue 1 campaign as a whole, he has not scored against opponents in the top nine and has just two assists in those matches.

He did manage three decisive passes against Manchester City in the group stages of the European Cup but, having been tasked with being Lyon’s chief attacking outlet against Barcelona three weeks ago in the absence of the suspended Fekir, he turned in a largely anonymous display.

This is a Lyon side that has performed satisfactorily this season but which has offered fleeting glimpses of thrilling football. There is a sense that they should have achieved more but have been undone by a lack of rigour and concentration. Memphis personifies all of these traits.

Although he was one of several key Lyon players rested for Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Strasbourg, when the concession of two goals inside two second-half minutes saw OL throw away a two-goal advantage in a frustratingly familiar manner, head coach Bruno Genesio will not be pinning his hopes on the Moordrecht native.

Instead, the Dutchman will be on the field as a wildcard; a player who could produce a tie-defining moment of brilliance.

Memphis Depay Tousart Lyon PS

Encouragingly for Lyon and for Memphis, there are signs that he is coming back to his best after a period of three months in which he did not score.

A deflected free kick in a Coupe de France victory over Caen was the catalyst.

"It’s been a long time but today it happened,” Genesio sighed to Eurosport after the match. “He’s not given up, he's played his part for the team and he’s been rewarded. It’ll do his confidence a lot of good.”

It certainly seems to have done the trick. That effort was followed up 10 days ago with the opening goal against Toulouse in a 5-1 rout, a superb strike in which he teased the defender before firing a curling shot into the corner from an improbable angle.

This moment of brilliance is the type to make highlight reels around Europe, to go viral on social media as perfect fodder for YouTube compilations, the type from which Memphis has made his name.

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“It’s good for the confidence of the team to have a Memphis who plays well and who influences the match,” midfielder Lucas Tousart said after the Dutchman’s goal against Toulouse. “And to have a Memphis who scores, that will really make a difference.”

Come Wednesday, there will be no second chance. Barcelona are not a Toulouse or a Caen, and for a Lyon side that is taking up the role of underdogs, every opening must be maximised.

For OL, this is a potentially season-defining encounter, but for Memphis the stakes are higher; it could be career-defining.

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