I know how the headline might look, but hear me out.
I’m a big fan of Memphis and as a Manchester United fan, I wish he was given more of a chance at the club before he was sold off to Lyon. Since joining Lyon, he’s been brilliant for them. Goals, assists, leadership and a shift of position have seen him become almost indispensable and named as captain.
With just a year remaining on his contract and no European football for the French side, Barcelona have reportedly made their move to bring the Dutch forward to the Camp Nou.
The player has agreed terms and the two clubs are in talks over a fee that would seal the deal and reunite Memphis with his former national team coach Ronald Koeman.
There’s no question about why Memphis would look to leave Lyon for Barcelona, but there are huge question marks over why Barcelona would be looking to take him.
After their battering at the hands of Bayern Munich the club made promises to completely restructure the club including the playing squad. Ivan Rakitic has returned to Sevilla for a minimal fee, while Arturo Vidal is close to joining Inter Milan and the club have told Luis Suarez that he is unlikely to be part of the squad going forward and are in talks to rescind his contract.
Koeman wants to introduce a younger core to the squad and it’s been reported that he wants to include Phillipe Coutinho in the side following his loan spell at Bayern, while Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele will be depended on more going forward.
The signing of Memphis would likely not be the most expensive and will provide depth to Antoine Griezmann in the central striking position, while he’s also comfortable playing on both wings too. It adds variety to the attack, plus having played well under Koeman previously for the national team he shouldn’t take too long to settle in.
The issue is simple – he’s not that good. He recovered quickly from an ACL injury last year to bounce back and help Lyon into the semi-finals of the Champions League but overall he’s never been their talisman in that way. He has quality but a club like Barcelona should be looking to strengthen with someone far better than him.
When you consider Griezmann’s struggles last year and the fact that Messi doesn’t want to be there, replacing Luis Suarez is an even tougher task than it looks on paper. Over the last two years he’s declined greatly in terms of where he was once upon a time, but Suarez is still clear of Memphis.
Barcelona’s standards have dropped if Memphis is their main target for attacking positions, although he’s definitely better than Martin Braithwaite. I expect what will happen is the deal will go through, he’ll feature here and there behind the other attacking options and then in the following 18 months he’ll be sold again (likely for a small profit because somehow Barcelona seem to do that a lot) to a club more at Lyon’s level where he’s at his best.
Some players are made for the big stage, others drown. Memphis strikes me as the type to be at his best when he’s a big fish in a small pond. Barcelona should think about that before they conclude this deal.