Depay, in his last game with the Barcelona shirt against Intercity in the Copa del Rey. JOSE JORDAN (AFP)
Memphis Depay ends his departure from Barcelona. FC Barcelona reached an agreement in principle with Atlético de Madrid on the transfer of the Dutch striker this Wednesday morning. “They are about to finish polishing the fringes,” reported Barcelona. For its part, the Madrid company assured: “It is very close. We’re moving forward.” Still, according to Barça’s sporting management, the sum that the Catalan club will receive for the transfer of the Dutch forward is under negotiation in any case. “It won’t be much,” they explain in the offices of the Ciudad Deportiva azulgrana, which expect almost three million euros. According to the same sources, the player will sign with the Rojiblanca entity for two and a half seasons. Atlético sources assure that the final agreement can be announced this Thursday. Meanwhile, Barcelona have sacked Depay. In fact, the Dutchman didn’t show up for training this Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Copa del Rey round of 16 clash against Ceuta.
In the summer of 2021, Memphis came to Barcelona for free. At a time before the levers that Joan Laporta’s board activated last summer (sale of assets) where the Barça club could not invest in transfers. The Dutchman caught the Camp Nou from the start. It wasn’t very difficult then. Barcelona fans were still processing the thunderous and surprising departure of Lionel Messi from Barcelona. In his first 15 games in the league, Depay has eight goals and two assists. But the injuries conditioned the striker’s regularity. He missed 29 games due to four different injuries, most recently in the preview of the World Cup in Qatar.
At Barcelona, they have complained about how Memphis dealt with the injury last September. The player stretched his comeback to the max and asked permission to continue his rehabilitation in his country. In fact, he reappeared with his team in Qatar. For his part, Xavi had already stopped counting on the Dutchman. Of the five games that Barça played after Qatar, Memphis only took part in the cup game against Intercity (75th minute). However, the Barça coach did not publicly complain about Depay: “He is professional. He’s a positive guy and he’s our player.” In total, Memphis made 42 appearances with the Barcelona shirt (14 goals and two assists).
Last summer, Barcelona tried to transfer Depay. Juventus followed in the footsteps of the former Manchester United striker. However, Aubameyang left for Chelsea in exchange for €12m and the club were forced to keep the Dutchman, whose contract with Barça expired next June. Barcelona’s sporting directorate is now working on a striker to replace Memphis. Xavi had already made it clear: “I’ve said before that I don’t want anyone to leave. I’m happy with my squad, but when someone asks to go, you have to make up for the loss. I won’t name names because we’re concentrating on the final, but if anyone wants to leave they have to make up for that possible loss.
Depay arrives at an Atlético in need of strikers and goals after the transfer of Matheus Cunha to Wolverhampton and João Félix to Chelsea. The question is how it can fit into Diego Pablo Simeone’s system. He is not a player to be sacrificed in order to do the defensive work that the Argentine coach demands of the forwards. His best version, in his time at Lyon, came when the team played for him. He is neither a footballer who often attacks spaces, nor a counter-attacking specialist. However, Atlético sources say the manager has been linked with the club from the start when he was hired. Above all, Simeone expects goals from him and that he offers him variants to improve his team’s attack against rivals that give him the weight of the games.
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