It could be one of those busy summers for Manchester United as they look to rebuild their squad. A host of other players have already been linked with a switch to be part of Louis Van Gaal’s Old Trafford revolution. The club have already spent over £60m pounds on Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao and the 18-year old English left-back Luke Shaw and are looking to add more quality to their squad to bounce back from last season’s misery.
Angel Di Maria is the latest to have been rumored to be a target of Manchester United, with a bid reportedly being prepared for one of the most underrated players in world football currently. Arsenal have also been heavily linked with the Argentina international who has struggled to strike the right chord with the Bernabeau faithful. The 26-year-old is currently trying to agree a new deal but talks have stalled with claims that the Argentine is being too greedy. Manchester United are said to be interested in Di Maria but are believed to value him closer to £30m. However, Di Maria is not thought to be overly keen on missing out on Champions League football next season, while several other European giants such as Arsenal and Juventus are all monitoring the situation. Real could be cashing in on Di Maria to fund a bid for Monaco and Colombia star James Rodriguez, who has recently stated his desire to play for the European champions.
Position – Where does he play?
Di Maria primarily plays out wide, a player that can ply his trade on either flank with his dazzling ability to run at players wrecking havoc both domestically and in Europe as one of the most dangerous players in the world currently.
While often having to play second fiddle to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, with their lofty transfer fees demanding they start for Real Madrid, Di Maria cemented his place in the team with a plethora of scintillating displays, rubbishing the idea that he was surplus to requirements at the Santiago Bernabeau last summer. Having still not got the recognition he deserves after leading Europe’s assists chart outright, with 17 in the league and a further five in the Champions League, Di Maria could look to move on and be the main man elsewhere, but Real won’t let him leave easily, as he has arguably been just as important to them as any of their other more appreciated stars.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Di Maria is an incredibly gifted dribbler, a player that can take full-backs on at will, leaving them in their wake. For a person of his physique, he is very agile and balanced with a low centre of gravity. 48 successful take-ons last season, does not quite do his ability to run with the ball justice, but it is his pinpoint delivery on the run that really separates him from the pack, with Di Maria having created 90 chances in the league alone – to claim a whopping 17 assists, a total not matched by anybody anywhere in Europe’s top five leagues.
A further 19 were created in his 11 Champions League games as well to claim another five assists, leaving him far and away as Europe’s assist king and you feel as though he would be talked about in the same breath as Ronaldo, Messi and Suarez if he could just add a few more goals to his game.
As far as weaknesses are concerned, Di Maria has mustered just four goals in his 34 league games this season, despite having had 58 shots on goal, with the Real Madrid man having converted a relatively paltry 6.9% of his shots on goal.
(Stats from Squawka.com)
How will he fit into Manchester United’s style of play?
Ask anyone that follows Manchester United what their biggest problems were in the season just finished and they will talk about the lack of quality in the wide areas, with the likes of Ashley Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia failing to impress, while Adnan Januzaj is still in his learning stages, despite a reasonably successful start to his professional career.
In Di Maria, United could find the perfect solution to play on either side of the pitch, fitting perfectly into a system that includes three attacking midfielders behind a striker, with his current role with Real seeing him often interchange with the likes of Bale, Isco and Ronaldo to devastating effect.
Given a similar role at United, Di Maria could be the most dangerous player for them and would provide the danger from the flanks that was sorely lacking in a side that has always relied on width, while he could comfortably switch flanks or even drift into the middle to form a formidable trio with Juan Mata and Robin Van Persie to decimate the opposition.
This is a position where Manchester United seriously lack the goods and Di Maria could prove a certain upgrade to what they currently have. He is pulling the strings for his national side in Brazil at the moment, not really sure about where he would be next season. In a recent interview, he said,
“For now, I’m just thinking the World Cup. We’ll see what happens with Madrid and if they want to continue, he said. Honestly, I know that there are offers and interested clubs.”
Real Madrid are valuing him in the region of £40m and in my opinion if Manchester United were going to break the bank and spend a fortune to land any player, it should be this man from Argentina. He is 26 and entering into his prime years, he’s just won the European Cup, won everything there is with Real Madrid and could be ready for a new challenge in a new environment. The mediocrity of United’s options on the flanks having become glaringly obvious over the course of the past year, the signature of Di Maria would represent a real coup for the Red Devils. Whether he is ready to forego European football to play for one of the biggest clubs in Europe and World football though, remains to be seen.
And if he is, Di Maria could really be their Guardian Angel.