One surprising transfer target for Chelsea

Memphis Depay of the Netherlands (Photo by Geert van Erven/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Memphis Depay of the Netherlands (Photo by Geert van Erven/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

The 2022 summer transfer window is off to a relatively quiet start in west London, but there has been no shortage of action surrounding Stamford Bridge. Todd Boehly and his consortium were approved as the new owners of Chelsea FC on May 30, finally concluding an incredibly frustrating and drawn-out process that undoubtedly had some negative effects on the club’s transfer dealings. Boehly also installed himself as club chairman and interim sporting director following the departures of Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia, both of whom deserve nothing but appreciation from the Blues’ fanbase. The times are indeed a-changin’ around our beloved Chelsea, but whether they will be better or worse is yet to be decided.

This summer window is certainly crucial in determining the near-term success of the 2021 European champions, but it hasn’t gotten off to the best start. In fact, it’s been pretty cataclysmic. The Romelu Lukaku saga has mercifully come to an end, but its financial ramifications ensure that it will be remembered as one of the worst transfers in Premier League history. Additionally, many of the Blues’ top targets look poised to sign for other clubs or have already done so, as was the case with Aurelien Tchouameni moving to Real Madrid. While the operational freeze imposed on Chelsea by the British government during the sale was necessary, it prevented negotiations with these players’ representatives from taking place. There’s obviously still an abundance of talent to be had, so no need for supporters to panic, yet. However, it might be time to consider looking at alternatives to the biggest names in the rumor mill.

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One player who I’ve long admired that might become available soon, is Barcelona’s Memphis Depay. The Dutch forward burst onto the scene at a young age with PSV Eindhoven before flopping dramatically at Manchester United between 2015-2017, where he only scored two goals in 33 total appearances.

Memphis managed to revitalize his career as an exciting and versatile attacker at Lyon, becoming a star in Ligue 1 and playing a huge role in the French club’s run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019/20. Memphis now plays for Barcelona, although his jersey number and place in the squad appear to be in jeopardy with rumors swirling about the Blaugrana’s reported interest in Robert Lewandowski. If the Polish hitman does move to Camp Nou, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dutchman is put up for sale at a discount.

I think Memphis would be a useful addition to this Chelsea squad for multiple reasons. He’s a creative force on the front line and consistent in finding the back of the net, which are two qualities missing from many of the Blues’ current attackers.

One characteristic that truly separates him from Thomas Tuchel’s other forward options, though, is his aggressiveness. Memphis ranked in the 89th percentile among forwards in the top five European leagues last with 3.30 dribbles attempted per match and in the 98th percentile with 2.35 key passes per match. More basically, he was in the 99th percentile in total passes attempted per match with 48.11.

These are obviously a few cherry-picked stats, but they demonstrate the Netherlands international’s willingness to be an instigator when his team is struggling. If you want to get a better idea of what I’m talking about, just check out any of his YouTube skill montages.

The statistics also show that Memphis becomes more threatening as he approaches the opposition’s goal. He averaged 1.87 carries into the opponent’s penalty area and 7.00 touches in that area itself per match, both of which ranked in the 97th percentile among top European attackers. His 47.00% shot-on-target percentage would’ve been the highest on Chelsea’s roster last season as well.

There are countless other numbers to show that Memphis brings an entirely new skillset to this squad that is particularly convenient because of his positional versatility. His unwillingness to press means he would probably most often be deployed as a No. 9, but he is certainly comfortable playing on either wing or behind another striker in a false-nine role.

I have to be honest, I haven’t seen even a single Tweet linking the Netherlands international to Stamford Bridge and this article came solely from a place of fandom. I love watching Memphis for the same reason I loved watching Eden Hazard; he plays with a genuine joy and exuberance that few other professional footballers today possess, which is clearly massive praise coming from a CFC fan. I do think he would be a successful addition to our squad, though, and he really shouldn’t cost too much if Lewandowski arrives in Barcelona.

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Mr. Boehly, I know you’re looking for a new full-time sporting director. This is my application.