Fact: Angel Di Maria has looked a shadow of his best in 2015 at Manchester United. Fact: Angel Di Maria is still a brilliant player.
The conundrum is an obvious one. There are two sides to every coin and for Di Maria the 2014 side shimmered blindingly bright, while flipped over to 2015 and the surface is dulled beyond any recognition thus far.
Louis van Gaal and Manchester United’s hierarchy in general have a huge decision on their hands in the off-season; allow the club’s record signing to be bought by Paris St-Germain for a fee around £10m short of what they paid for him, or keep the faith?
Many fans who dug deep for their Old Trafford season tickets may already be screaming for the first option, but, there really is feasible logic for keeping Di Maria on the books.
First and foremost, Di Maria really is a phenomenal talent despite his confidence and subsequently his performances dropping off a precipice in the second half of the season.
The pre-cursor to the Argentine’s British transfer record-breaking move to the Red Devils was, after all, a truly majestic season as one of Real Madrid’s best performers, which ultimately ended in Champions League and Copa del Rey glory.
This was followed by further string-pulling excellence for his country on the biggest stage of all, where Di Maria virtually eclipsed one Lionel Messi as Argentina went agonisingly close to winning the World Cup.
When he stepped off the plane in Manchester, Di Maria’s head must still have been spinning.
Nonetheless, he wasted no time in reaching for the magic wand in a brand new country and in a league generally thought of as the hardest of Europe’s elite divisions to adapt to.
A burst of three goals arrived in September – one a sublime scoop against Leicester – promising United fans a highlights reel to savour come the end of the campaign.
Although this didn’t transpire (aside from a January strike in the FA Cup down at Yeovil) a toxic mixture of burnout and bad management can easily be attributed to Di Maria’s demise to boo boy, even though the number seven still ended up with 10 Premier League assists to his name.
Van Gaal’s rigid approach somehow failed to accommodate United’s most expensive acquisition in his favoured central midfield position, which had brought him to global prominence only months earlier.
What Di Maria desperately needs is a well-earned rest this summer, a classic recharge of the batteries, some English lessons, and some real assurances that the team will be built around him in the coming season.
If not, PSG will rub their hands with glee, knowing they will be purchasing a refreshed superstar ready to take it out on the Champions League competition again next season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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