Memphis Depay: 'I became a much better player' after Man United exit
MANCHESTER, England -- Memphis Depay declared Manchester "is still red" as he returned for the first time since leaving United 20 months ago, but has vowed to keep the reason for his departure secret until he writes a book.
The Lyon winger will face Premier League champions Manchester City in the Champions League opener after failing to make an impact in a brief spell at Old Trafford.
Depay, 24, says he has matured since leaving United and would not rule out a return in the future with United maintaining a first-refusal buy-back option.
"It's the first time I've come back to Manchester after I left," he told a news conference on Tuesday. "That feels special and I'm happy to come back here and play against Man City.
"I have been improving a lot, not only on the pitch but off as a person. I've become more mature. You go through experiences in life on and off the pitch. When I came back today I felt like a different person.
"Everybody knows the story of me and Manchester United was not successful. I'm just happy that I'm the player I am today. I can look back and say I didn't want it to go like that -- nobody did -- but things happened. I became a much better player.
"I can feel it in games and everyone can see it. For sure, the city is still red and we will try to get a good result against the Blues."
After just seven goals in 53 appearances for United, Depay was allowed to move to Lyon by Jose Mourinho in a £16 million move. He was signed by Mourinho's predecessor Louis van Gaal, but struggled in his time under the ex-Netherlands coach.
Asked if he had spoken to former boss Van Gaal since leaving United, Depay added: "No, never. I have seen Van Gaal at testimonial game of Dirk Kuyt and we didn't really speak about it. Certain things that happened I don't want to say now in public, I don't feel like it matters any more because ... maybe when I write a book some day I will speak about it but for the moment, no.
"There were some miscommunications and once again I cannot blame that or a particular thing the way things happened. That's all I want to say.
"I still speak with lads from United and I wish everybody the best and you never know what happens in the future."
Depay laughed off a recent anecdote from former teammate Wayne Rooney that Depay turned up for a reserve game in a Rolls-Royce, cowboy hat and leather jacket after being told by the United captain to adopt a low profile.
"People will take it as I'm serious," he said. "Some people can't take a joke and me and Wayne are very good friends.
"Of course he is a legend, and when I heard about it I was just questioning, I don't have a red leather jacket out of my thousand leather jackets!
"I understand what he meant with it and that's it. It doesn't need to be brought up again. Still, it is. It's in the past and I'm a flamboyant guy and like nice stuff but that doesn't mean I couldn't be more smart. I've become more mature. Other than that, sometimes we take things too seriously and you should laugh about a joke and keep going. I'm sure he is happy with how I turn up now and the football player I am. I've been gaining more quality and feel very strong. It's all good."