So, it at least looks like there’s a good chance that Angel Di Maria will leave Manchester United less than a year after becoming the club’s record signing. If his transfer to PSG goes ahead – and reports suggest the deal is close – then the player will suffer from the same criticisms levelled at his compatriot 11 years ago.
Juan Sebastian Veron was sold on, leaving many ready to twist the knife and say the creative midfielder was an expensive mistake. Veron has his supporters, but their voices are whispers in a crowd of those who are able to point to the simple fact that the player did not consistently show his best form at Old Trafford, regardless of the circumstances or whether he was given the best opportunity.
And now Di Maria seems destined to endure the same fate. The difference between the players is that Di Maria has not had an enjoyable first year in Manchester. His house was robbed – let us remember that he may well be a multi-millionaire but the threat of someone invading our personal space and in a single second turning around the lives of those we love is a universal one. It is a very human fear. Add to that the troubles he has found on the pitch, hardly being first choice since February, and it stands to reason that maybe the grass does seem greener.
The case for him going
When you take those factors into consideration, it seems like it should probably be the sensible thing to let him go. By all accounts, United and PSG aren’t miles apart in their respective valuations. So the Reds won’t take a huge hit and Paris can give themselves the impression of being a major player. Plus, it gives Di Maria that feeling that he remains a top player, a vital confidence boost.
If the player is not wanted or favoured by Van Gaal then is there any point in keeping him at the club? It is suggested that Barcelona’s Pedro may come to the club and his versatility and work rate (which may not be substantial but is perceived at this moment to be hopefully superior than that of Di Maria) and lower cost makes him an appealing player on all fronts.
Veron’s time at United was not shared with Park Ji-Sung but the subtle difference in how certain players are utilised is perfectly shown in how these two stars were deployed by Sir Alex Ferguson. There is no contest in which of the players had the greater natural gift; equally, when it came to selecting a player for a big game, there was no real choice to be made.
So, is the sacrifice of Di Maria worth it if the manager feels that in Pedro he will get a greater overall efficiency and consistency? That higher level than Ashley Young, even if not hitting the occasional peaks that Di Maria is capable of?
Furthermore, there is the suggestion that the wages freed up by Di Maria will be used as a carrot to tempt another Real Madrid star. And in that case, maybe it’s worth taking the disappointment of Di Maria moving on if it’s ultimately for the greater good.
The case for him to stay
Di Maria is a world class player, on his day. Even after being used as a bit part player for much of the back end of the season, he still ended his first campaign as United’s most creative player by a considerable distance. He created 51 chances in 27 appearances.
Much is made of how Louis van Gaal likes players dedicated to a certain style and match rhythm but he is also committed to attacking and inventive footbll. Di Maria, without doubt, is United’s most naturally gifted footballer, and if he is played consistently behind a settled team, that will surely be to his benefit.
Even in that, there remains some speculation about the player’s best position. Some believe he plays best as a left sided player in a midfield three, or at least the player given more creative licence in such a trio. As Van Gaal looks to move to a 4-3-3, wouldn’t it be wise to try him alongside Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin?
The player himself has said he wants to stay. Louis van Gaal may have seen non-committal but at least wasn’t as brutal as he was about Victor Valdes, suggesting the door is open for a future.
And United don’t need the money. They don’t need to free up wages. It may be a significant coup to bring in another world class forward but does it need to be at the expense of Di Maria? Perhaps having better forwards, able to convert chances better than Rooney, Falcao and van Persie last year, therefore turning creative potential into actuality will help with his own confidence. As Gordon Hill has said on the RetroUnited.com podcast on a few times, it stands to reason that playing with better players helps you – but playing with inferior players drags you down to their level.
No, it’s not the strongest argument, but let’s be fair – how many times did you have your head in your hands due to the profligacy of our forwards last season? Di Maria can only provide for players, he can’t score for them too. So the stats about his creativity should be encouraging.
Additionally, United supporters love nothing more than championing an underdog. Yes, it’s strange to refer to the club’s record signing as that, but it’s a reference that holds some fair strength – some long time United supporters may wonder if he has the psychicality and some younger fans may question the ‘bottle’ of a player who put in a star turn in midfield in a Champions League Final, but by and large many supporters would love to see him remain at the club and prove the doubters wrong.
It may not be something that is vivid in the memory for some readers but Andy Cole was questioned the summer after his move – and, the summer after that too. Jaap Stam was written off after three weeks.
Di Maria has the tools and the capability to perform well in the Premier League and, with a stronger, settled team behind him, theoretically should do better.
Que Sera, Sera
…and with reports that all that remains is for the fee to be agreed, it seems that ‘what will be’ is a transfer to Paris in the coming days.
United have been relaxed about the situation and won’t try and instigate the sale but if the player wishes to leave they won’t stand in his way; should, of course, they get the right fee.
Our view is that the player should stay at United. We would prefer to support him and get behind him while we know he has the quality to make a significant difference and let’s be fair, after selling a number of attackers, selling our best player would not be the wisest move if we don’t have anything lined up.
But what do you think?