Lyon star Memphis Depay says Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho told him he hoped to buy him back when he left Old Trafford in January 2017—provided he fulfilled his prediction he would become one of football's elite.
Mourinho sold the Netherlands international to Lyon eight months after arriving at Old Trafford, and Memphis told The Times of the parting declaration he made to the Red Devils chief (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express).
The winger said: "When I left, I said to Mourinho 'you will see me at the top.' He said 'OK. I hope that, and I hope we will buy you back one day.' I never had a bad relationship with him."
There's no reason to believe Memphis may not one day return to Old Trafford following his time in France. But then again, there's no guarantee Mourinho will be the one making those decisions at United when the opportunity arises.
The Dutchman has flourished since he left England, and Goal noted his significant contribution to Lyon's progression to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages:
Memphis has scored 33 goals and recorded 36 assists in 91 appearances for Lyon, per Transfermarkt, which equates to having a direct hand in around 0.75 goals per game. In contrast, he put up seven goals and six assists in 53 outings at United.
Despite his success at the Groupama Arena, Memphis recently demonstrated he still holds allegiance with the Red Devils in the buildup to his side's Champions League clash against their rivals Manchester City, as HaytersTV shared:
Mourinho's predecessor, Louis van Gaal, brought his compatriot to England from PSV Eindhoven in 2015. Memphis played just 20 minutes of Premier League football under Mourinho before his exit from Old Trafford.
He's come a long way at Lyon, though, and he led by example in the recent 2-2 draw against City, as Statman Dave highlighted:
Joe Bray of the Manchester Evening News reported in November that Mourinho insisted a buyback clause was included in Memphis' Lyon contract upon his exit from United.
Though such clauses are not legal in French football, per Tom Coast of Sport Witness, Mourinho's side could at least have first refusal on the player if he did become available, with this new-and-improved Memphis a potential upgrade on United's attacking options.