Angel Di Maria signing for Manchester United from Real Madrid last summer
It shouldn’t have turned out this way. On 26th August 2014, Manchester United pulled off the biggest transfer in British history – the signing of Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.7million.
But eleven months can be a long time in football and at this moment in time, it is believed that the Argentine is on the brink of signing for French champions PSG for £46.1 million. So where did it all go wrong? Why has it not worked out and are Manchester United making a mistake in selling their number seven?
- Was Manchester United’s top assist making with 11 in 2014/15
- He scored fours goals for the club in 2014/15
- He is the fifth most expensive footballer of all time
The move from Real Madrid…
Like a five year old who is forced to smile at a christening, Angel Di Maria was perfectly happy at Real Madrid – having picked up the man of the match award in the 2014 Champions League final – and was forced out of the club following the signing of James Rodriguez from Monaco. Rodriguez had a fine World Cup and scored the goal of the tournament, which prompted Florentino Perez to part with a monumental fee. Someone had to make way and with the arrival of Gareth Bale the previous summer combined with the irreplaceable Cristiano Ronaldo – it was always going to be Di Maria.
As Di Maria was quite happy at Madrid, there was definitely a sense that he was forced out of the club – rather than wanting to join United. Despite the euphoria amongst United fans, it is clear that if Di Maria had the choice, he would have remained at Los Blancos. Open letters are all the rage these days, and the Argentine thought it was necessary to send the fans that once adored him – one final piece of communication. “Sadly, now I have to go, but I want to make it clear that this was never my wish.” – not the words of a man who is keen to start a new career in England.
There is no other word to describe the transfer and performances of Di Maria as disappointing. The mood around United post World Cup was different from twelve months previous. Even with the home defeat against Swansea City and the draws against Sunderland and Burnley – United fans were optimistic due to the charismatic manager in the hot seat. The purchase of Di Maria was the marquee signing United fans wanted. Banished were the days of losing out on Cesc Fabregas or being given a merry dance by Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent in his pursuit of a new contract – United had a player of intent.
Over the course of the season, Di Maria’s performances declined swiftly – towards the back end of the campaign – his contributions were anonymous. His decision to pluck the ball out of the air against Liverpool at Anfield, using his hands – having thought the ball had gone out of play whilst he was still on the pitch – resembled that of a chubby kid at school so out of his depth in a football trial he resorts to sabotage to end the misery of playing in this type of theatre.
I’ll make no bones about it – I am gutted the transfer hasn’t worked out. He is a player of immense ability and will surely do a brilliant job at PSG, but United are making the right decision is cashing in on a player who quite clearly doesn’t want to be at Old Trafford. Di Maria was sensational in the early part of the season – scoring a quite genius goal against Leicester City, but he would only find the back of the net on two other occasions in the league. His form following a hamstring injury and the burglary diminished quite rapidly. He lost his place to Ashley Young, who was in fine form, and never looked like making a claim to take it back.
PSG and the surprise…
As with David De Gea, United need to keep strong in the negotiations for a player that is wanted by a European super club and – although not exactly the same as De Gea – would like to join the chasing club. If United get the £45million that is being branded around for the player, we need to accept the £15million loss and move on to the next chapter. Di Maria will strengthen PSG in their quest to challenge Barcelona, who are plonked right on top of the European pedestal. Former red, Laurent Blanc was quite cagey about the possibility of the player signing – but indicating there was a clear interest for the player:
“There is a good possibility but there is nothing official. There is an anticipation he is going to come to the US but as to which jersey he is going to wear, we don’t know yet. If he does make a change hopefully it will be for Paris St-Germain.”
The significance of Di Maria leaving is that United would then be on the lookout for a more suitable replacement. There is this apparent surprise, which I presume isn’t Louis van Gaal dressing up like Derek Zoolander, which could be a big major signing. All three players of interest, or should we say players that United have been linked to, again lead back to Real Madrid. Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos. Firstly, I can’t see either Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for United – Ronaldo especially as Louis van Gaal has gone on record to deny the Portuguese star will be on his way to Old Trafford – however, Ramos is a more logical signing – especially with the desire for the Spanish club to sign De Gea. Surely with Di Maria leaving for Paris – would enable van Gaal to step up the chase for this surprise?
Angel Di Maria is a great player who sadly will not be showing the world what he can do at Old Trafford. Looking back, the signing was doomed from the start and despite his early good form, the attacker never stepped up to the plate and appeared to be on the periphery of big games, like Arsenal at home in the FA Cup, and looked withdrawn. His exit is disappointing, considering his talent, but the quicker this gets resolved the better, so United can move on to players who want to play for the club.