‘I will continue as I have always done’

‘I will continue as I have always done’
Memphis Depay

NOS Football

Orange can’t do without Memphis Depay. And Memphis Depay can’t do without Orange.

For the 29-year-old Atlético Madrid striker, Ronald Koeman’s return as national coach will perhaps feel even more familiar than for all the other internationals who also experienced Koeman’s first tenure in Zeist. Depay was at his best then, playing alongside Georginio Wijnaldum.

“I feel fit, I’m training really hard there,” Depay said of the situation at his new club. “And I need that too.”

Winter transfer

Depay was brought to Barcelona by Koeman, but found himself playing less and less there after the Dutchman’s dismissal. A lack of playing time for Depay is the major concern for Koeman, who otherwise sees the striker as undisputed. The winter transfer to Atlético seems to offer a solution.

“A winter transfer is never easy, because the season just goes on,” Depay knows. “I think the last few games I’ve shown again that I’m fit, making runs and getting into positions that I can score. That’s there again and that feels good.”

Depay: ‘Happy to be back with Oranje, but hard to forget World Cup’

Of course there is also looking back, now that the internationals are back together for the first time since the World Cup. “You went through fire for each other. But it didn’t go the way we wanted there.”

And for Depay personally, too, the move from his dream club Barcelona to Atlético did not feel like a victory. “It just went the way it did. At some point you just have to make your choices,” he realized. “I will continue as I have always done.”

Training harder

The gaze can return to the future, with Friday the new Orange’s first big test against vice world champion France.

“You’re mostly talking now about being happy to be here again. Unfortunately without Frenkie,” Depay is referring to the absent De Jong. “Annoying, because that’s one of your most important players, especially how this national coach wants to play. But in my opinion it’s not a serious injury.”

Rather, Depay is focusing on his own game, which he says has received a huge boost from working with eccentric coach Diego Simeone at Atlético.

“Simeone gave me a lot of energy from the first moment we were together. He wanted to see the Memphis of the last Lyon year again. Who carries the team as captain, but also involved in goals. He said: that Memphis I’m going to bring back, I want to see that.”

His way of training also suits Depay’s explosive style of play, the striker noticed in his first months in the Spanish capital.

Fantastic ‘Griezie’

At France, he meets his teammate Antoine Griezmann, who previously revived his career by moving from Barcelona to Atlético.

Griezmann would reconsider his future in the national team, however, now that not he but Kylian Mbappé was chosen as the new captain. “I know Griezie. Gelieve me, that is a very special player that France needs. And a fantastic person”.

With Griezmann, Depay sees the development he himself envisions. “He has completely regained himself under Simeone,” he said.

Kayleigh Williams