Following a successful World Cup, scouts from a number of clubs were interested in the then 20 year-old Dutchman, Depay however decided to spend one more year at PSV before making the move to a bigger club. The extra year of development benefitted Depay as he was able to drive PSV Eindhoven to their first league title in 7 years, scoring 22 goals in 30 games.
United's purchase of the winger was to be expected however the timing of the announcement, three games before the end of the BPL season, may have come as a surprise to most football fans. Speculation around Depay's destination next season began to pick up after PSV Eindhoven secured the league title with Liverpool, Paris Saint-German and Manchester United all rumoured to be in pursuit.
Marcel Brands, Technical Director for PSV confirmed interest from Liverpool stating, "Liverpool contacted us and talked with the player". However it wasn't interest from Liverpool that forced Van Gaal's hand, "I was forced to handle [the situation] as a manager because, otherwise, he was going to PSG, that's why I had to sign him," said Van Gaal speaking at his pre-match press conference.
Van Gaal went on to explain the reasoning behind his purchase of Depay. "He's a goalscoring winger and there aren't so many of them in the world". This is a description reserved for some of the best players in European football such as Ronaldo, Griezmann, Hazard and Depay's compatriot Arjen Robben. These are all players who have the ability to put pressure on defenders in the box and break down tight defences with their ability to dribble. These are attributes that are lacking in United's current squad. Though Di Maria was hailed as a 'World Class winger' by Van Gaal before his £59m move from Real Madrid, the Argentine is known as a creator rather than a goal scorer. This has been backed up by the 3 goals and 10 assists Di Maria has returned this season. Where Di Maria is likely to beat his man and provide a killer pass or cross, Depay is more likely to cut inside his man and shoot at the earliest opportunity like the aforementioned wingers.
Depay has been tipped to succeed by Jaap Stam, Van Der Sar and Phillipe Cocu. United fans must however remember that the player is taking a step up in quality by joining the BPL and may require time to adjust to the pace and physicality of the league. United also have a large number of players that can occupy the front three in their 4-3-3 formation and although some players may leave, Depay is by no means guaranteed first team football. The less Depay plays the longer it may take for him to adjust to the demands of English football.
When Memphis does play, expect him to provide a bright spark to United's attack. He is a player who always looks to probe from wide areas and has an attacking aggression not seen at United since Rooney and Ronaldo's younger days.
His attacking mentality does not necessarily fit in with the more patient possession based approach present in Louis Van Gaal's philosophy. According to , Depay's weakness is his ability to hold on to the ball, citing the player's unsuccessful touches and tendency to be dispossessed by the opposition. This may be a bone of contention between the two until a balance can be found in Depay's decision making. This is of course an issue all wingers must resolve at some point in their careers if they are to be successful and Depay, at 21, has plenty of time to develop.
The signing of a new winger raises questions for the current players in that position. Ashley Young has started the last seven games for Manchester United on the left wing, Memphis Depay's favoured position. Poor form from Young to start next season or good form from Depay in pre season could put Young's place in the starting lineup in question immediately. Having just signed a new contract Young's tenure at United is unlikely to end as a result of Depay's arrival. Di Maria was purchased for big money in the summer and due to poor form has come on in place of Young as a substitute multiple times in the last seven games. Di Maria has looked out of sorts as a sub of late and there is some speculation that he will move away in the summer. Assuming he stays, United could move Di Maria into the left central midfield position currently occupied by Marouane Fellaini. This would create a similar dynamic to the one Di Maria thrived in during his last season at Real Madrid where he occupied the left side of midfield when Ronaldo cut in from the left.
Adnan Januzaj appears to be the odd man out should Young, Mata and Di Maria all stay at United next season. The young winger looked like he would be a mainstay of the current team prior to Van Gaal's arrival. He hasn't had the same opportunities in the first team this season as he did last season meaning he could be sent out on loan in order to get regular first team football.
Manchester United are expected to strengthen at right back where Valencia has been a staple having been converted from right winger. He has however left his centre backs vulnerable after making runs forward, a problem which has lead to goals by both Manchester City and Chelsea. Rafael's injury filled season has left him unreliable and out of favour with Louis Van Gaal and as a result is expected to be replaced in the summer. It looked likely that Manchester United would go in for Southampton right back, Nathaniel Clyne after he revealed at a fund-raising event for the Football Fighting Ebola campaign that he, "wants to play Champions League football, to win the title and the FA Cup." He has since however calmed speculation reaffirming his happiness at Southampton.
Manchester United have been linked with a large variety of centre backs all season and according to United have already had a bid rejected for Otamendi but are still interested in the Valencia centre back. Mats Hummels has also been linked to United having expressed an interest in playing abroad.
The position United appear to require reinforcements in most urgently is defensive midfield. Following Michael Carrick's injury against Manchester City, United failed to score a single goal and had conceded six, losing three straight games before defeating West Brom. Sky sources reported an agreement between United and Ilkay Gundogan, the news however was ultimately denied by Borussia Dortmund.
Finally the two players repeatedly being linked in rumours are David De Gea who will need to be replaced should Real Madrid meet Manchester United's valuation for the player and Gareth Bale who would be the kind of blockbuster signing Woodward likes to make.
United fans will be pleased with United's will to act swiftly and decisively in the transfer market after consecutive years of late action in the summer transfer window.