Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt reckons Holland are reaping the rewards of Memphis Depay’s miserable Manchester United experience.
Depay, 27, goes into the Euros with massive offers from Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain on the table after rebuilding his career at Lyon following his nightmare at Old Trafford.
The forward lasted just 18 months in Manchester, scoring just two goals in 33 Premier League appearances and being criticised by Wayne Rooney for turning up to training in a flashy Rolls Royce.
But Depay has become the talisman for Holland’s young team – and Juventus defender De Ligt said: “Memphis has gone through so much in his career already.
“The World Cup in 2014, where Holland finished third, was a massive experience for him.
“But people forget he also played for Manchester United. It was there he learned what is
required at top-level football.
“He is now passing on that experience to the young
players in our team.
“He will say to them in the camp, ‘Hey, come on, this is the real level of top football, you are finding out what it is all about’.
“It is great to have him in the team – not just for the quality he brings on to the pitch, but because he is a genuinely nice guy.” Depay will become a free agent at the end of the month when his contract with Lyon expires.
Former Dutch coach Ronald Koeman wants to link up with him again at the Nou Camp, but PSG are now trying to hijack Barca’s bid to sign him.
Holland kick off their campaign against Ukraine in Amsterdam.
Depay has scored 13 goals and provided 13 assists in his last 20 internationals and he admits his bitter experience at Old Trafford has been his driving force.
Depay said: “I have this massive urge to prove myself.
“I absolutely love to be involved in this tournament. I want to be important.
“I love a challenge and tell all the boys in the dressing room to play as if it is their last game for their country.”