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Memphis Depay revelling in life at Lyon

Publish on 18/04/2018 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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Memphis Depay is playing some of the best football of his career right now, but has admitted he had wondered "if Lyon had bought the right player" as he struggled to adapt to life in France.

Depay has struck a hugely rich vein of form with five goals and as many assists in his last four Ligue 1 Conforama outings. That has boosted his tally to an impressive 14 goals and eight assists in just 23 league starts this season.

It is more like the form OL fans expected when the Netherlands international joined their club from Manchester United in January 2017, and is the fruit of Depay playing a freer, more creative role than he has been able to for Lyon in the past.

"At PSV, I first played as a centre-forward, then I was made to go out on the left when I got into the first team. I've played that position since then. When we were defending, I could use all my qualities. At the start here, we played differently. We gave a lot to defend, and it became impossible," explained the 24-year-old.

"We had several discussions about it. I came here to contribute what I can do. When you're on a wing, you defend a lot. I understood what the coach was asking of Bertrand [Traoré] and me, but each time I told him that it wasn't one of my strengths. I even asked myself if Lyon had bought the right player. Since there have been some changes in the team, it's better for me. My preferred position is number 10."

The absence of Nabil Fekir through injury has been the main reason Depay has been able to flourish in a central role in recent matches, and the return of the Lyon captain leaves coach Bruno Genesio with a dilemma.

Fekir, Traoré and Depay have shown they can team up effectively this season, however, while their understanding with Mariano Diaz has helped the summer arrival from Real Madrid claim a team-high 18 league goals so far this term.

Depay actually provided the assist to Mariano's first goal in France in the 4-0 win over RC Strasbourg-Alsace on the opening day of the season, but it has not been until OL's last two outings the pair have linked up to devastating effect once again.

"I'm very honest: the start was difficult. I didn't have an understanding with him at the start. He's a real forward who finishes things off. I play a different kind of football, but he's really adapted. He has learned. His stats are impressive. He makes the difference inside the penalty area," said Depay, who had a hand in all five goals in the Week 32 win over FC Metz, including four assists.

"If you look at my stats, you can't really say I play for myself because if a team-mate is better placed, I pass to him. Now, our connection is better. We find each other better on the pitch. It's also a question of rhythm, of playing all the games. His number of goals is impressive."