The skilful Argentinean winger didn’t have the instant impact that a lot of people expected him to have. He was brought in for £59.7 million which, at the time, was a deserving price tag but, since coming to Old Trafford many believe that he hasn’t lived up to the fee.
Di Maria has won the Portuguese league, the Spanish league and the Champions League in his career and has had achieved many personal awards for his footballing talent as well. These include: being the Man of the Match in the 2014 Champions League final; in the World Cup Dream Team for 2014 and; being voted 2014 Footballer of the Year in Argentina, which is a great accomplishment when his competition includes the likes of Sergio Aguero, and Lionel Messi.
The Season that Clinched his move to Old Trafford
The 2013/14 season was the best season of Di Maria’s career. He ended the season with a domestic record of 11 goals and 26 assists over 52 games. During the season he helped his team to win the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League.
He also had great success on the International stage. He helped Argentina win all 3 group stage games in the 2014 World Cup and; he scored the only goal in the final 16 round which knocked Switzerland out in extra time. In the quarter final Argentina went 1 up against Belgium but then Di Maria went off injured. The injury then kept him out for the rest of the tournament. Argentina didn’t score another goal after Angel’s injury. They went on to beat the Netherlands on penalties and lose to Germany in extra time. Di Maria was a huge loss to a side that was still had Lionel Messi on the field.
Di Maria in Manchester
In the Premier League, Angel only started 16 games and was subbed on 9 times. He averaged just less than 61 minutes of play over his 27 appearances. The other 11 games were missed due to still being at Real Madrid, injury and being left out of the squad by LvG. Not exactly the game time that anyone expected the British Transfer Fee record holder to be getting.
Despite this he still managed to score 3 Premier League goals all of which were quite special. His first came against QPR where, he crossed a free kick over all the personnel in the box which then bounced into the back of the net. The second was a chip over Leicester keeper, Kasper Schmeichel, from just inside the box. This was in the game which saw the Foxes come back to win 5-3. His last Premier League goal came against Everton. Mata rolled the ball to the edge of the box where an incoming Di Maria rifled a well placed shot through 4 defenders and the keeper. Unfortnatley all of these goals came in his first 5 games, he would only go on to score one more goal in the FA Cup.
Angel also showed his fantastic play making ability in the little time that he spent on the field. He provided 10 Premier League assists, which was the joint 3rd top amount of assists provided by a single player. Above him was Arsenal’s Cazorla in 2nd with 11, having played 10 more games than Di Maria and; Fabregas who sealed the most assists with 18, he played 7 more games than the Argentinean.
Di Maria didn’t have a bad first season at Manchester United. He certainly outshone previous British Transfer Record Holder Fernando Torres who, for £50 million, provided Chelsea with 2 assists and 1 goal in his debut half season. Also he is still one of the best wingers in the world.
How Angel Performed in his Other Debut Seasons
Di Maria first came to European football in 2007. He signed from CA Rosario in Argentina to Portuguese side Benfica at the age of 19. His debut season for Benfica brought in 1 goal and 5 assists. He improved his goal tally in the second season by netting 4 times, but only getting 3 assists. This was an overall improvement from being involved in 7 goals instead of 6. He also played 6 more games in his second season. His third and final season was what saw him impress Madrid. He scored 10 goals and set up a further 19.
Angel’s performances for Real Madrid were always impressive but he didn’t top his debut record of 9 goals and 26 assists until his final season, 2013/14, where he scored 11 times and set up 26 goals.
His best season has never been in his first with a new club. As the winger managed 4 goals and 12 assists in his first season with the Red Devils, one would expect a better performance in the coming season, if he’s given the chance.
United Without Di Maria
In the 9 Premier League matches that he was unavailable or unused by Manchester United, the team did not lose. 6 wins and 2 draws came from the Di Maria-less United team. Though he contributed greatly to Manchester United’s 3rd place finish, the team did well without him too.
This pre-season tour of the United States has seen the Red Devils defeat 3 opponents of varying quality in the form of: the San Jose Earthquakes, Club America and Barcelona; all whilst Di Maria was on holiday, following his participation in the Copa America international tournament.
Last season, Di Maria would play in attacking midfield, as a centre forward or on either wing as he’s such a diverse and talented player. However, based on the preseason performances of the players currently occupying those positions, it’s hard to see who he’d replace. He’s far more technically gifted than Young or Mata, and has more experience than Depay, but he may not fit the Van Gaal system as well as they do.
Should Angel be kept at Old Trafford?
The Argentinean is one of the best wingers in the world. Any club would benefit from having him in their team, not excluding Manchester United. They should try to keep him, and all of their world class players, for as long as possible.
Having said this, the manager’s style of play may not be right for Di Maria, and the team still succeeds without him. It may be better for the player’s career, if he was to move, to go to a club where he’ll be an instant fit into the dynamics of the team and; play every game with no competition for his place. This could also benefit United as, despite losing money from the initial buy, would be able to reinvest in positions which are in greater need of strengthening, such as in central defence or upfront.
The recent mystery of why Di Maria didn’t get on the plane to join up with United’s pre-season tour has added further doubt as to where he’ll be next season. But, Van Gaal has said that he wants him to stay as United need speed and creativity going forward.
Provided that Angel Di Maria isn’t sold to a Premier League club, there are benefits to selling and to keeping him. Hopefully he’ll be kept as he’ll be a huge boost for the team, especially in the Champions League.