Memphis Depay has revealed that he was “sad” during his time at Manchester United.
The Dutchman arrived in 2015 having spearheaded PSV Eindhoven’s title triumph the season before and was handed the No.7 shirt.
But following a promising start he quickly regressed under a Louis van Gaal regime that slowly demolished any attacking zeal, and eventually joined Lyon in January 2016.
And Memphis, reflecting on his time at Old Trafford, revealed that his spirits sunk the longer he was there.
“Honestly, in terms of quality… nothing [is lacking to be the best in the world],” he said. “I’m not arrogant but I need to be more consistent perhaps.”
“No, it’s an easy answer. [Alexandre] Lacazette was the best in Lyon, but he had to go to Arsenal to become even better.”
“I know how it works in football,” he said. “I’m the one who gets all the punches. ‘Memphis is crazy’, ‘Memphis does this…’
“I cannot be anyone else but Memphis. I tried that, and I was not happy with myself. Back in Manchester, I was not happy with myself.
“How can I be a great football player when you’re not happy with yourself? I looked in the mirror and I was not happy, I was sad. Now I’m happy to be myself.”
The story of Memphis, like that of Angel di Maria, will be remembered as a tale of what might have been. For a club whose very foundations are built upon an attacking mindset, the number of players who have been deprived of freedom on the pitch and decided to move on is depressing to say the very least.
Mourinho knew he had talent. His time at Lyon has only added further weight to that notion. But that season under Van Gaal – especially being left out of the FA Cup final squad – shattered him to the very core. Moving elsewhere was the only option.