Olympique Lyonnais attacker Memphis Depay celebrates a goal

EuroStars: Memphis Depay (Netherlands)

EuroStars: Memphis Depay (Netherlands)

Publish on 06/03 at 22:30 - E. DEVIN


In leading Olympique Lyonnais to an historic Champions League semifinal and a Coupe de la Ligue final, Memphis Depay resurrected his career and brought an unmistakable swagger to Ligue 1

While Alexandre Lacazette may be currently garnering the headlines with his historic return to Olympique Lyonnais, having also been prolific in his previous spell with Les Gones, during his five-year spell at Arsenal, fans of the club had another hero to cheer.

Memphis Depay’s stint in Lyon, between 2017 and 2021, was the stuff of legend, as the Dutch international served up many a bravura performance while also helping the team regain their bearings after several seasons in which they’d seen their level drop from the heady heights of winning seven consecutive Ligue 1 Uber Eats titles.

A product of PSV Eindhoven’s academy, he made his debut for the first team at the age of 17 in 2011, and steadily improved under Philip Cocu, culminating in a league title and scoring crown in 2014/15. Just 21, Depay’s form earned him a move to Manchester United, but he struggled at Old Trafford, making just 16 league starts and scoring two goals, and he would join Lyon in January 2017.

Cup-tied, he was unable to feature as Les Gones made an impressive run to the UEFA Europa League semifinals, but soon made his mark with a scarcely believable goal against Toulouse, scoring from the halfway line. With Lacazette sold in the summer, Depay became central to Lyon’s play — he, Nabil Fekir, and new arrivals Mariano and Bertrand Traoré all hit double figures in the league, winning nine of their last ten matches.

Capped off by a hat trick from the Dutchman in the final round of league play, Lyon returned to the Champions League with a third-place finish. Despite being eliminated in the Round of 16 in the following season, Depay would even help Lyon notch a famous win away to Manchester City, but 2019/20 was where he truly sealed his reputation as an all-time great for Les Gones.

Despite the season being interrupted by COVID-19 and Lyon finishing seventh in the league following a difficult early season under Sylvinho, the team, powered by Depay’s five goals in the group stage, reached the knockout rounds of the Champions League before an ACL injury seemingly prematurely ended his season.

Despite most players needing a year to rebound from a serious injury, Depay was back in the side for the Coupe de la Ligue final in July, and then scored a penalty to help his side beat Juventus in the Champions League Round of 16. A memorable 3-1 victory over Manchester City in the quarterfinals followed, and despite elimination at the hands of Bayern Munich, Depay’s legendary status was sealed.

A final season saw him keep Lyon in the running for the league title for much of the campaign, earning a place in the UNFP Team of the Season before departing to Barcelona. For his country, Depay has also impressed on a regular basis, helping the Netherlands to come third in the 2014 World Cup. Ahead of the Euros, he is just six goals behind Robin van Persie on the Oranje’s all-time scoring charts, ranking ahead of legends such as Ruud van Nistleroy, Dennis Bergkamp, Marco van Basten, and will be looking to add to his totals this summer.

Read more:

>> Euro Stars: Thiago Motta (Italy)

>> Euro Stars: Loïc Négo (Hungary)

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