Opinion: Why Paul-Georges Ntep news was leaked on the same day Memphis Depay joined Man United

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There’s no such thing as a coincidence when it comes to football. Everything is carefully planned behind the scenes and drip-fed to the media when it’s convenient to those involved – in this case Liverpool, Manchester United and Memphis Depay.

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We’ve learned this morning that the Dutch winger – who has previously held talks with both the Reds and Paris Saint Germain (via the Daily Mail) – is on the verge of completing his move from PSV Eindhoven to Old Trafford.

Liverpool fans are unsurprisingly distraught. We’ve been ‘told’ on multiple occasions that the 21-year-old has been on the verge of a move to Merseyside, including here by The Metro, and that has only fuelled the anger.

Depay, one of the stars of last summer’s World Cup – where he scored twice on route to a third place finish – has continued to impress in the Eredivisie this year, netting 27 goals in 38 games in all competitions.

Considering our problems in front of goal this season – we’ve scored just 49 in 35 Premier League games – Depay was thought to be one of the prime candidates for bolstering Brendan Rodgers’ strikeforce.

The best case scenario here is that the Liverpool Echo were correct in their thinking last week, when they claimed that we’d cooled our interest in Depay in order to pursue an out-and-out centre forward.

Rodgers and the Liverpool owners will have known only too well what sort of backlash this would get – allowing Depay to join a domestic rival and our main competition for the fourth and final Champions League spot – so we shouldn’t be surprised that reports of our imminent move for Paul-Georges Ntep emerged just hours earlier.

Only now do we conveniently learn that the 22-year-old Frenchman, who also plays on the left wing, has visited Melwood twice and held talks over a summer transfer. Indeed, L’Equipe expect the deal to be completed soon.

This news was never going to appease supporters – there is little in the way of competition between the two players at this stage in their respective careers – but we can at least take heart in the fact that something is being done.

We need to be realistic, we’re unlikely to be playing Champions League football next season and do not have the financial sway of some of our Premier League rivals. If we want to spend big on renovating our attack this summer and find a suitable replacement for Steven Gerrard, then we can’t be spending £25m on a position where we’re already adequately well stocked – with Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, Jordon Ibe and Lazar Markovic all capable of playing there…

Ntep’s potentially very good, too. He’s scored nine goals in 15 appearances for the French Under-21s and has netted nine times for Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais this season, helping them battle against relegation.

The player also drew praise from Four Four Two writer Andrew Gibney, who tweeted: “Always believed Lille made a mistake not making a strong move for Ntep when he was at Auxerre. Would have been perfect. Great player.”

Nonetheless, we’re frustrated. We look set to sign someone we’ve not heard of rather than a globally recognised phenomenon. But the transfer window hasn’t even opened yet and there’s still a long road ahead. We already have a fine young team that can, and will only improve.

We’d all appreciate a sign that the transfer committee aren’t going to remain this tight-fisted moving forward but we have to retain belief in the fact that they have our best interests at heart. Brendan Rodgers has spoken of the need for marquee signings and believes he has support (via The Telegraph)… all we can say now is, let’s see one of them then!

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