Memphis Depay made their dream move to Barcelona this week and signed as a free agent.
The Dutchman took control of his own future at Lyon and let his contract expire to make his club selection.
Now, of course, his performances had to earn the Barcelona offer. 20 goals and 12 assists from 37 games in Ligue 1 show how he became aware of him.
Perhaps there is a debate over whether United should have brought him back over the past few seasons. United had a buyback clause but chose not to use it. This ship has sailed.
The topic of discussion here is whether more players will follow Depay’s courage to let his contract run out to choose their contracts to land dream moves.
(Photo by Piroshka van de Wouw – Pool / Getty Images)
Are you waiting for a move to United?
Every summer we see players whose move to Manchester United is priced out.
Jack Grealish was one of them last summer when Aston Villa put a £ 80 million fee on his head.
Grealish then received a five-year contract with Villa. With this signature he waives the right to vote for his next club. He is at the mercy of an interested club that meets Villa’s asking price.
Harry Kane could learn this the hard way, too. The Tottenham striker signed a new deal in 2018 until 2024. If Daniel Levy refuses to sell him, he’ll be stuck with Spurs.
We see it every year with Wilfried Zaha elsewhere in the Premier League too. The Times reports that he told Crystal Palace he was going for a new challenge. This won’t happen unless a club meets the Eagles’ £ 50 million plus asking price.
Zaha is himself to blame after signing a new contract in 2018 until 2023. He wanted to become Palace’s highest-paid player and he has to face the consequences of that.
This is why the move from Depay deserves so much credit. Holding on to his weapons, he chose not to renew in Lyon, but to choose his own fate elsewhere.
Many players would prefer the long-term security that a lucrative contract offers, especially if Depay suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in December 2019.
United could benefit from this again in the future. We probably already have, as Edinson Cavani rejects a PSG expansion in 2020 and decides to move to Old Trafford. But it would be great for a player in his prime to do so, as Depay did with Barcelona.
In the event that Borussia Dortmund continues to play hard against Jadon Sancho and rejects United’s offers, the winger could simply wait for his contract to expire in 2023. Then he can follow Depay in choosing his own destiny. This would require an extraordinary amount of patience from everyone who has invested in this potential transfer as it already feels overdue.
(Photo by Tullio Puglia – UEFA / UEFA via Getty Images)
It could of course also work differently …
The sad fact is that we may already be witnessing this game in reverse. Paul Pogba appears to be waiting for his Manchester United contract to end.
The Frenchman’s United deal expires in June 2022 and it looks increasingly worrying that he will refuse to sign a new deal.
Pogba was previously barred from joining Real Madrid and if he wants to be he’ll be almost there, only 12 months away.
That’s the other side of the coin, but if Pogba follows Depay, waiting for his deal and choosing his ideal club, more great players are likely to consider following him.
Another Mino Raiola customer, Gianluigi Donnarumma, has just let his contract with AC Milan expire in order to move to PSG.
Ultimately, Manchester United could be the ones to benefit instead of constantly having to pay the odds on potential signings. But it will require a change in the mindset of the players involved. People like Kane and Grealish are too easily seduced by high contracts and the “big fish in a little pond” idea in their current clubs. Depay’s actions indicate that the settings may begin to change.
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