There seemed little doubt that Liverpool were interested in Memphis Depay. The Dutch club had been open in their talk of interest from Anfield and in Paris, where PSG were hoping to bring the young wing star in as the latest big-money signing for the French champions-elect. They also believed Manchester United were interested, but Louis van Gaal’s side hadn’t yet made any formal enquiries.
Journalists with connections to Liverpool confirmed it; confirmed that it wasn’t just a club posturing to drum up a bidding war. And while signing Depay was a long-shot, one that seemed likely to depend on United focusing on more proven talent over the summer and giving Liverpool the opportunity to beat them to a player who more than anything wanted to play with his former national team manager, some fans allowed themselves to hope.
Yet when United didn’t focus on bringing in more proven talent first and instead moved quickly to make up ground on PSG and Liverpool in the Depay chase, and when Depay inevitably joined up with his former manager as everyone had mostly agreed he would if the opportunity presented itself, Liverpool changed tack. Brendan Rodgers claimed they’d never been interested in him to begin with. PSV have now fired back.
"We spoke with three clubs and we discussed terms," said PSV technical director Marcel Brands in response to Liverpool’s recent claims of disinterest. "They knew what we wanted and it was up to the player to choose the club where he wanted to play. I had contact with Ian Ayre, but I’m not in their club. I don’t know what their policies are. Man United were very fast and Memphis made the final decision. He made his choice."
If there’s good news for Liverpool fans in that, it’s that they appear not to have haggled and dragged things out. They knew what PSV wanted, and if it was up to Depay to choose from between the three clubs seeking him, then Liverpool must have been willing to give PSV what they wanted. Liverpool in the past have been accused of dithering, of haggling, and of giving other sides the chance to swoop in on their preferred targets.
Here, they offered what PSV wanted. The player just wanted something different. He wanted to be reunited with Louis van Gaal. Which is what every Liverpool fan believed he would do if given the chance. At least until he went and did it and half of them tried to turn it into a grand failure on the club’s part. Lying about their interest in Depay after the fact may raise a few eyebrows, but there appears little to criticise in the attempt.
With rumours United would be focusing their energies on bringing Gareth Bale back to England, the club saw an opportunity to pounce on one of Europe’s most talented youngsters at a decent price and went for it. United, as it turned out, wanted Depay badly enough to make him their first signing of the summer regardless of what their plans might be for Bale. And Depay chose to reunite with the manager he has spoken of as a father.
There has been plenty to criticise Liverpool for in the transfer market. There have been targets missed out on due to stubborn negotiating tactics and many millions wasted on sub-par parts—with reports the club are about to spend another £7M to, at best, swap out third strikers—but there’s no shame in attempting to sign Depay. Or to in the end missing out on him due to his connection to another manager.