Tottenham are reportedly ready to move for Manchester United target Memphis Depay, and the Red Devils should allow the talented Dutchman to complete a move to north London.
Louis van Gaal advised the 20-year-old to stay with Dutch club PSV for another season, but the winger told De Telegraaf (h/t to Goal's William Joyce) he'd consider a move to a "big club from a big league:"
I'm having a good time at PSV but, if big clubs from big leagues come to me, I will think about it. There is more than enough interest but it is also an option to stay at PSV. I understand that the fans want me to play in Eindhoven next season. I see a lot of children with my name on their shirt. I'm proud of that but I'm the one who decides how my career looks and no one else.
Tottenham are reportedly such a club, and according to Joyce, they're willing to pay more than £15 million for the services of the World Cup hero.
Depay had a strong campaign in 2013-14, despite the struggles of club PSV, but his real breakout moment came during the 2014 World Cup. Used by Van Gaal as an impact substitute, he scored twice for a Dutch team that made a surprising run culminating in the bronze medal, per WhoScored.com.
He has all of the physical tools you look for in a top player: He's fast, strong, has a ton of technical baggage and remarkable vision for a youngster. StatsBomb's Ted Knutson is a big fan:
Depay has prodigious physical gifts, and unlike an Andros Townsend, he has real output in goals and assists too. Turns 20 in Feb! So young— Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) August 6, 2014
That statistical output needs to come with a grain of salt, however. WhoScored shared his stats in the Dutch Eredivisie:
GRAPHIC: Memphis Depay - Eredivisie 2013/14 pic.twitter.com/doAXfGaMYC— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 6, 2014
Scoring 12 goals in 32 matches is a solid return for any attacker, but this is the Eredivisie. You know, the "wide open, we couldn't care less about defence" Dutch league.
According to Comparetheleagues.com, there's only one league in Europe with a higher average of goals per match than the Dutch league's 3.26—the Estonian, with 3.41.
Depay is a very talented player, but lost in the sudden rush for his signature is the fact that he's still very raw. Van Gaal knows this—it's why he told the young winger to stay with PSV for one more year in the first place, per Goal's Greg Stobart.
The Dutch manager has a reputation for cultivating young talent, but the Red Devils already boast several youngsters ready to have a big impact on the team in the near future (Adnan Januzaj, Luke Shaw and James Wilson come to mind). Introducing youth is one thing, but you can't build a team around inexperience.
What would be the best choice for Depay?
Depay needs minutes, and that is the one thing United can't guarantee him at the moment. As a winger, he's limited in how he fits into Van Gaal's 3-5-2 formation. If he couldn't make the starting XI during the World Cup, why would the 2014-15 season at Old Trafford be any different?
For Tottenham, things are different. They have a need for an extra winger, especially after the departure of Gylfi Sigurdsson. Spurs have a young, talented squad, but if Depay puts in the work, he should make the team's starting XI with relative ease.
The Dutchman would have the chance to adapt to the far tougher Premier League and continue his development by actually playing consistently. And if he does make good on his potential, Spurs simply don't have the financial firepower to stop the Red Devils from moving for the player in a year or two.
If Depay does the smart thing and stays in the Netherland for another year, United can chart his development and potentially make a move for him in 12 months. But even if 2014 is the year in which he makes the switch to the Premier League, United would be wise to stay away for now.