Man Utd fans snap up Ronaldo shirts at Old Trafford
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Manchester United are being made to regret letting Memphis Depay go after such a short time with the club, and not exercising his buy-back clause after he did depart. The Dutchman bagged a hat-trick for the Netherlands on Tuesday which has already taken the 27-year-old level on international goals with Johan Cruyff.
The Red Devils paid £25million to sign Depay from PSV in 2015 and the forward arrived as a precocious talent with a big reputation.
Just one-and-a-half seasons later, the Dutchman was on his way out again after seven goals in 53 appearances was deemed not good enough at Old Trafford.
United ended up taking a loss on Depay, accepting an offer from Lyon with an initial fee of less than £20m.
With a point to prove, Depay went on to enjoy four-and-a-half fantastic seasons in Ligue 1, hitting 58 league goals across his last four campaigns with the club.
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Having run down his contract, the mighty Barcelona came calling and a reunion with old Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman is already starting to bear fruit.
The tricky winger-turned-frontman could be one of the stars of Barca’s attack this season in Lionel Messi’s absence, while United watch on wondering what could have been.
Transfer chief John Murtough broke the bank to bring in £73m Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund this summer.
Meanwhile, United are paying Cristiano Ronaldo a reported £500,000-a-week to provide another top-class option upfront.
Both Sancho and Ronaldo have come in to provide attacking reinforcements for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, when Depay could have grown into one of the side’s key men by now.
United had a buy-back option in the deal with Lyon but that obviously expired when he left for Barca and surprisingly the Red Devils never exercised it.
They could have signed him for free this summer before he moved to Barca but opted not to do so.
The fact that that not even a sell-on clause was included in the deal to take him to France seems curious for a player with such a big reputation, though ultimately they would not have profited given he ran down his contract.
Salt could soon be rubbed in United wounds if Depay kicks on in Barca as it looks like he might.
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With one of their weakest attacking contingents in recent memory after the departures of Messi and Antoine Griezmann, Koeman will rely on his compatriot to come up with the goods week after week.
Going up another level, especially under the bright lights of the Nou Camp, can catapult a player into superstardom.
Although United’s wealth of attacking options upfront and out wide means they are not necessarily missing Depay at present, the fact they have had to break the bank to reach that level when they had a top-class option under their nose will hurt all the same.
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