The Dutchman was speaking ahead of his side’s Europa League clash against José Mourinho‘s men on Thursday in Turkey. United are currently in second place in Group A with 6 points, with Fenerbahce in third with 4. Both teams will be looking to gain the victory to propel them towards the round of 32.
Depay has been left out of the squad for this game, and the playing time he has been given this season by Mourinho has been very minimal. The 22 year-old signed for United last summer from PSV Eindhoven for £25 million. At the time, he was touted as one of Europe’s hottest young talents, and was also handed the iconic number 7 shirt at the club.
Despite making 29 appearances in the 2015-16 Premier League season, he was only able to manage two goals. The signing of Anthony Martial restricted his playing time, and he found it very difficult to adapt to the English game.
Advocaat feels that a player of his talent should be playing regularly at this age, but admits that Mourinho’s hands are tied by the immense quality available at his disposal:
The potential is there for him to be a good player. You cannot lose that, he has the quality to be a top player, but the problem for him is that there are so many quality players in that squad.
So for himself it is important to start playing regularly at the age that he is at – otherwise the way, I think, is that maybe he has to find another solution [club] because he is too good to sit on the bench. I still believe in him, he has the right mentality, the right character to play for United, but there are so many options there. Regular playing time will help his progression.
Advocaat and Depay were together at PSV in 2012-13, with the former giving the then-teenage starlet his first start for the club.