After close to two months, Barcelona forward Memphis Depay returned to footballing action on Monday when he stepped onto the pitch for the Netherlands in their FIFA World Cup opening match against Senegal.
The Oranje picked up a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen, with Frenkie de Jong setting up the first while Depay was involved in the lead-up to the second.
As iterated earlier, it was Depay’s first appearance in a game in close to two months after he had picked up a thigh injury in late September while on international duty with the Netherlands.
The 28-year-old’s recovery time ran longer than initially expected, leading to suspicion in some quarters that he was avoiding making a swift return in order to not risk an injury ahead of the World Cup.
At the same time, it has also given way to speculation over his future at Barcelona. Depay is no longer an important plan of manager Xavi Hernandez’s setup and had played just three times prior to his injury.
With the January window nearing and Barcelona in need of achieving Fair Play, player sales could be necessary and the former Manchester United ace is seen as someone who can be shipped off, especially given that his contract also expires at the end of the season.
After the Netherlands’ win on Monday, Depay spoke to the media when he was asked about his future at Barcelona after the World Cup. As quoted by Fabrizio Romano, the attacker said:
“I don’t know what will happen after the World Cup. I’ve recovered from injury and I’m enjoying the World Cup. I don’t want to think about the past. I also don’t want to think further than this competition.”
Depay is behind the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Raphinha, Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres in the pecking order of things at Spotify Camp Nou. And, as things stand, there is no chance of that changing and an exit would make sense for all parties involved.
There does not seem to be a shortage of suitors for Depay either, although he would reportedly consider leaving Barcelona for only a top club.