An angel by name and on the field, Angel Di Maria seems to be within a few days of swapping England for France. Although having only arrived last year for a Premier League record fee of sixty million pounds, Manchester United are happy to take a pay cut and sell the Argentine to Paris Saint Germain, but this is a mistake.
When Di Maria arrived at Manchester United, he was coming off a stellar season in Spain where he spread his wings and flew Real Madrid to La Decima. Within his first five starts for his new club, the Argentine had scored three goals. Although not dominating every game, Di Maria ended 2014 with Manchester United as one of the Premier League’s best and as a member of the World’s Eleven. Whatever highs Di Maria had in the first half of the season though, he had equivalent lows in the second half. 2015 has been highlighted with low confidence, a red card in the FA Cup against Arsenal for diving and then tugging at the Referees shirt, and losing his manager’s faith.
In his last season as a Galactico, what seems to be forgotten is that Di Maria struggled at the start of the season. He was behind Gareth Bale in the first team and was public enemy number one in the Spanish media for performing antics such as grabbing his crotch when getting substituted. Di Maria had one foot out the door, similar to his present scenario, but he chose to stay and forced his way into the first team. The rest is history as he had season of his life. What this shows is Di Maria has adversity and can rebound when it appears there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Few would have chosen to stay in the same circumstances with the arrival of the most expensive player in the world, but he did. He also proved the naysayers in the media wrong with all the pressure on him. This isn’t easy and shows that next season Di Maria has the mental strength to rebound and return to his tantalising best.
What made Di Maria so good for Madrid was playing in a consistent environment. Ancelotti had one system; a 4-3-3. Last season though, it would be almost impossible to consistently name the lineup Louis Van Gaal would put out. With all the signings Van Gaal has made this transfer window though, it appears that he has come up with a basic formation and starting eleven. Last season the Argentine played up front, in the midfield, on the wings and in defence as a wing back. This inconsistency contributed to his poor form in the second half of the season. Playing Di Maria consistently either on the wings or in midfield should produce results. In all the environments he has thrived in, such as Real Madrid and the Argentina National Team, he has played in a consistent formation and position. So should Van Gaal have consistent tactics, Di Maria with his quality will definitely improve on last season.
Although United have made some good signings this transfer window, none are of the calibre of Di Maria. Bastian Schweinsteiger is currently in the twilight of his career and doesn’t have the box-to-box fitness of the Argentine. Memphis Depay was prolific in the Netherlands, but is currently unproven in the Premier League and is mostly potential. Schneiderlin is a good holding midfielder but isn’t as effective going forward. Depay and Schneiderlin are also new when it comes to the Champions League. Given United are challenging in four competitions, keeping players of Di Maria’s quality should be inevitable. Although he may start the season on the bench, having a player of Di Maria’s quality to turn to if you need to bring him on or for squad rotation is a sign of great squad depth.
Another factor that selling Di Maria to Paris Saint Germain is a mistake is the price. United are on course to make a loss in selling Di Maria to PSG and cheaper than his true value is. They shouldn’t be pressured by the French champions into selling cheap though given their strong finances and financial fair play position. If they do decide to sell Di Maria, which appears likely, they should aim higher as the current deal PSG are offering for one of the best players in the world is low compared to what he is worth.
Ultimately selling Di Maria would be a mistake for Manchester United. The player showed in his first half season in England he can be a class above the rest when on form, and if United want to be at their best again, he is the type of player who can carry them forward.