Angel di Maria joined Manchester United last summer and injected lots of optimism and determination into the side as the Argentine came with a mission and a point to prove.
The Argentine played a major role in helping Real Madrid win their much coveted Champions League – La Decima. His performance in the final was probably one of the best individual performances ever produced in any Champions League final.
And yet, he found himself isolated at Madrid. The burgeoning rise of James Rodriguez at the World Cup and subsequent Real Madrid’s interest in him meant, Di Maria’s time was up at the Bernabeu.
He had the option of joining the French champions Paris Saint-Germain (if the reports are to believed) but he chose Manchester United instead.
Finance obviously played a part. United splashed a British record fee of £59.7m for his signature and would make him one of the highest earners at the club. Then again, PSG could have offered him the same.
However, within just seven months after his record transfer, Di Maria is reportedly angling for a move away from Old Trafford.
The vibes coming out in the press is that he is unhappy at United, for multiple reasons.
The 27-year-old has yet to settle down properly in the new City. There was an attempted burglary at his home and that has unsettled his family. Understandably so.
His manager Louis van Gaal however feels the incident would not be a factor for Di Maria to decide his future. “Despite that incident… he is very pleased to be here at Manchester United,” van Gaal said earlier this month.
While off the pitch issues are mere smokescreen, the central reason behind such talks is Di Maria’s form, which is no where near any acceptable level.
After a promising start to his new career, his form has just fizzled out, although injuries and Van Gaal’s propensity to change his system and formation resulting him in being shifted out of position, may have had an impact.
Di Maria received widespread criticism for his lacklustre performance (including a Red card) in United’s FA Cup quarter final 2-1 defeat at the hands of Arsenal.
He was also reportedly berated by the Dutchman for his uninspiring performance at Anfield, despite him grabbing an assist for Juan Mata’s second goal.
Despite all these difficulties surrounding his future, it still seems unlikely that he will move out of Old Trafford next summer.
“I think he’ll stay. His reaction and attitude after the defeat and the red card has been good,” van Gaal lends full support to his prized winger.
Di Maria is a different type of player compared to other contemporary wingers. He is fast and skilful, covers lot of ground, but is not always the best passer of the final ball, unlike Mesut Ozil or Isco.
He doesn’t score too often either. At Benfica, he scored 15 goals in 124 matches, at an average of 0.15 per match. For Real Madrid, he managed 36 goals in 191 appearances, with a slightly better goal-per-game average of 0.18, while for United he has scored four so far with an average of 0.19. Last season he managed 22 assists for the Los Blancos, and this term he has managed nine in 21.
There is no doubt that Di Maria is a world class player. He has proved his mettle both at club and international levels and should come good if United exercise patience with him.
Having paid such a high transfer fee for him, it hardly makes any sense to sell him after just one season. United will be a strong team with Di Maria in the side than without him. He is the type of marquee type player that brings prestige to the club and helps in attracting other top targets especially when Champions League football is not guaranteed at Old Trafford.
It seems unlikely that United will let go of Di Maria so easily, unless they have a mega plan in store – using the money from his potential sale to fund move for some unhappy Real Madrid Welsh wizard. Jingle Bale! Jingle Bale!