RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Memphis Depay is arguably one of the World Cup’s most productive strikers, with two goals and an assist in just 63 minutes of play in Brazil.
Even so, the young PSV Eindhoven forward knows he is unlikely to break into the Dutch first team at this tournament, with the in-form strike partnership of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben playing up front and scoring freely.
Coach Louis van Gaal gave Depay and the rest of the Dutch squad a day off Wednesday after they made light of a tough Group B with three straight victories, including a 5-1 thrashing of defending champion Spain and a clinical 2-0 win over Chile.
Depay says he is satisfied to remain a super sub at this World Cup.
“You have to be realistic,” the 20-year-old forward said. “When you play with great players like Robin and Robben in this system it’s logical that I’m on the bench.”
But when van Gaal has called on him, Depay has delivered.
Against Australia, he came on at halftime after defender Bruno Martins Indi had suffered a concussion and Van Gaal switched to a 4-3-3 formation. He repaid the coach by setting up Robin van Persie for his third goal of the tournament and then scoring the winner in his first World Cup appearance with a swerving 25-yard shot.
Against Chile, he came on with 20 minutes to play in the second half, when Van Gaal believed he could exploit space the South Americans give away late on in matches.
He did exactly that. After Leroy Fer had headed the Netherlands into the lead, Depay had the unenviable task of sprinting down the pitch after a rampant Robben in a lightning fast counterattack as Chile pressed for an equalizer.
“Fantastic action from Robben … if Arjen sets off you can’t stop him,” Depay said. “Half of the goal is for him. He crossed it perfectly, I ran with him, believed in myself and could just tap it in.”
Depay’s World Cup performances have sparked speculation he could move from Eindhoven after the World Cup, possibly following Van Gaal to Manchester United.
He may only be 20, but Depay already knows the stock answer to questions about his future.
“I’m now at the World Cup so I focus on the World Cup,” he said. “After that, we will see. I have a contract with PSV until 2017.”
Wherever he plays his club football, Depay looks certain to build on the two goals in eight internationals so far for the Netherlands.
“He is a huge talent and great for the future of Dutch football,” Fer said.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.