PETE JENSON: Koeman wants Depay to add physicality to slender attack

PETE JENSON: Ronald Koeman wants Memphis Depay to add physicality to his slender frontline as new boss desperately tries to land his No 1 target before the window shuts… but move could hinge on Ousmane Dembele’s Manchester United move

  • Ronald Koeman is still hoping to land Memphis Depay before the window shuts 
  • The Barcelona boss has prioritised the Dutchman as his No 1 target this summer 
  • Depay’s physicality and ability to play centrally makes him a great option
  • Barcelona will have to shift Ousmane Dembele if they want to land Depay 
  • Transfer deadline live: Follow all the last minute deals before the window shuts 

Ronald Koeman’s lack of faith in Ousmane Dembele has left him hoping for a deadline day gift from the transfer market in the shape of Dutch international Memphis Depay.

Barcelona will only be able to move for the Lyon forward if Dembele leaves the club but Koeman left no one in any doubt that that is what he wants from Monday’s wheelings and dealings when he left the French winger on the bench in Sunday’s draw with Sevilla.

‘At the moment Dembele is a Barcelona player but there is still one day left of ins and outs. We will see. I decided to put (Francisco) Trincao, Pedri and (Miralem) Pjanic on for this game. We needed more control; that is why I choose them.’

Ronald Koeman still hopes Barcelona can land Memphis Depay before the window shuts

The new Barcelona boss has made the Lyon star his No 1 priority this summer transfer window

While some have asked why Koeman wants another player who made his name as a winger when he already has Dembele, January signing Trincao, as well as Ansu Fati and Antoine Greizmann he believes Depay still offers things than none of his forwards can provide.

The direct running, the durable physical presence and the ability to play as a central striker, are all things that Koeman knows he will not get from Dembele or from the recently arrived Trincao.

In Koeman’s last game in charge for Holland he picked Depay on the left of his second line of forwards but he was also happy to use him as a less-orthodox number nine. The Netherlands have Luuk de Jong to play up top. But for those occasions when the man who scored against Barcelona on Sunday night was not able to unlock defences, Koeman saw Memphis as an effective plan B.

Depay’s physicality and direct running offers something different to Barcelona’s attack

Koeman feels that the Dutchman will bulk up Barcelona’s slender front line this season

Barcelona have three number 10s. Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho and Griezmann, all want to play in that withdrawn central attacking position. It’s bad planning from Barcelona that they have three players who need to be in the same area of the pitch to thrive but Koeman is trying to make the overbooking work.

That’s why he has designed a formation that enables the three of them to play and to switch positions at will.

But they need space. They need a fixed forward ahead of them who will frighten teams with his pace, so forcing back the defensive line and opening space up for the number 10s to play, and who has the strength and control to hold the ball up.

But a move for Depay is dependent on whether Barca outcast Ousmane Dembele leaves

Depay wouldn’t be an obvious centre-forward for many teams but he has performed well there for Lyon and for Barcelona, who frequently played Michael Laudrup as the false nine when Koeman was playing, and who won two Champions Leagues with a younger Messi as the false nine, he could fit.

It would be a gamble but it’s one Koeman is prepared to stake his reputation on. It rests, however, on an even bigger gamble – Manchester United taking Dembele on a loan with a compulsory buy at the end of it.

They like the sound of the first part of that proposal but not the second part which would oblige them to pay big money for a player who has failed at Barcelona – that brings back too many Angel Di Maria and Alexis Sanchez memories.

United are reluctant, though, to take Dembele on permanently and the deal is stalling

The Red Devils would prefer a straight loan leaving them the freedom to revive interest in Jadon Sancho or other options next year. 

United also have Facundo Pellistri arriving who can play behind the striker or on the wing and is viewed as a talent who will compete for a first-team place, as well as Amad Traore. 

If a compromise can be reached on Dembele and the player, perhaps with the help of Paul Pogba, his France team-mate, can be persuaded to make the move, then it could still happen.

And that would leave Depay, who, according to Lyon sporting director Juninho, has already agreed personal terms to move to the Camp Nou.

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