Less than a year ago, Manchester United broke their transfer record to sign Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria for a fee of £60m. Now, it looks like the Argentine is on his way out of Old Trafford. The Manchester club are trying to squeeze some more money out of PSG, but it does seem like Di Maria is ready to leave England.
For as talented a player as he is, it was a really poor first season for Di Maria. He really struggled to get acclimatized to the Premier League and struggled mightily at times, especially in the second half of the season. Still, for all his struggles, it is wrong for United and Louis Van Gaal to be giving up on such a talented player so quickly.
Di Maria isn’t the first uber talented player to struggle in their first season in the Premier League, and he certainly won’t be the last. Take Mesut Ozil as an example. His first few months in England went well, like Di Maria’s, but he struggled at times in his first season. In his second season, he suffered a knee injury that kept him out for a significant period of time, but then came back and was sensational. By the end of the season he had the best chances created per 90 minutes rate in the Premier League. There is every chance Di Maria could do something similar in his second season, if United were to keep a hold of him.
Even in a poor season, Di Maria created more chances per 90 minutes and had more assists per 90 minutes than top players like Santi Cazorla, Christian Eriksen, and £49m man Raheem Sterling. Even with all his struggles, he did show flashes of the talent he has.
From the club’s point of view, staying with Di Maria would be, to an extent, a risk. Despite those flashes and those stats, he did struggle acclimatizing to England. Yet, Angel Di Maria is a player you take a risk on. He is a world class player and Manchester United need world class players. For all the good they’ve done this summer, they have a lack of real top level players in attack. Memphis Depay is talented, but he’s not world class. Wayne Rooney is obviously a quality player and has world class moments, but, in the last few seasons, he’s been unable to put together a whole season where he has been at this level. He’s gone through patches of good form and bad form. What makes world class players thus is their consistency, and Rooney hasn’t shown that in the last couple of seasons. Outside of Di Maria, they lack top quality in forward areas, and it’s not easy to buy those kind of players.
While it looks like they will not be taking the risk, sticking with Angel Di Maria is a risk Manchester United should take. He is a world class player and you take risks for such talent, especially when you are lacking other players of that quality. The writing seems to be on the wall that the Argentine will leave, but letting Di Maria go is a mistake by Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United.