"It's a dream come true". These were the words of Memphis Depay after signing a two-year contract with FC Barcelona, which has a 500 million euro release clause. He arrived on a free transfer from French club Olympique de Lyon.
"It's an honour, and something I've been dreaming about since I was a little boy. Finally, I'm a Barça player. The passion of the club, the board, the players, the fans and the city are what makes this such as amazing club. Barça had a huge impact on me [when I was younger], and now, aged 27, this dream has come true". Depay was officially presented as a FC Barcelona player yesterday. While the Camp Nou stands were empty, the player was accompanied by his family.
His passion for Barça goes back a long way. The club's president, Joan Laporta, explained that Memphis' mother had told him that his grandfather had bought him a Barça shirt when he was only five years old, telling him that one day he'd be a Barça player. This prophecy has now been fulfilled.
Depending on the epidemiological situation, it is hoped that fans will be able to attend games at Camp Nou during the coming season. After a year and a half of playing behind closed doors, Memphis is keen to celebrate goals in the Barça shirt: "I'm so excited to play in front of a full house. The team is working hard and ready to have a good campaign", he stated.
Koeman: important but not decisive
When asked whether he would have signed for Barça even if Koeman had not continued as head coach, Memphis said "Yes, you can't say 'no' to Barça. Koeman played an important role in bringing me here, but I still would have come [even if he wasn't the coach]".
Despite this, the Dutch forward only had positive things to say about the Barça manager: "I've known him since he was the national team manager, and he helped me a lot by picking me as the central striker. This decision really helped me to develop my game, and played a role in me coming to Barça. He already tried to sign me for Barça last season, but no deal could be reached at the time".
He's already played at Camp Nou
Memphis Depay has played at Camp Nou before, ending up on the wrong end of a 5-1 drubbing in March 2019 in the second leg of the Champions League quarter final. On this match, Memphis said "I remember thinking 'wow, this is one of the most powerful clubs on the planet'. I kept working hard for [my former club] Olympique de Lyon, and now I'm here. I can't wait to play with my new team mates".
Sharing a dressing room with Leo Messi
While Leo Messi is yet to officially sign a new contract with the club, Memphis is convinced that he will be his team mate for next season. When asked about the prospect of sharing a dressing room with the Argentina captain, Depay couldn't hide his excitement,
"It will be a dream to play with Messi. I've seen so many of his games, he's a legend. He's the best player in the world and he's proved it during the Copa América. I can't wait to play with him. He has so much quality. I'm a huge fan of his. I'll try to do everything possible to reach his level". He added that "yesterday I took a look around the club's Museum, where Messi's six Ballon d'Ors are kept. I'm sure that soon he'll have another one".