Angel Di Maria’s future with Real Madrid remains unresolved, having first been linked with a move out of the club last summer.
The Argentine had arguably his best season for Real this past season, being deployed in various positions across the midfield and adjusting surprisingly well to the central midfield role ahead of Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric.
Di Maria was said to be on the brink of a move to Arsenal at the back end of last summer’s transfer window. Di Maria, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil were all on the agenda, but failure to secure another senior centre-forward and Carlo Ancelotti’s insistence that Di Maria be retained due to the need for balance in the side allowed for Ozil to become available and make the switch to north London.
But Di Maria’s future has been clouded due to Gareth Bale’s arrival. The former Tottenham forward struggled for fitness last season, giving way for Di Maria to appear regularly in the starting XI. But Bale will undoubtedly be set for a better campaign this time around due to his full participation in Real’s preseason.
Another potential problem is the form of Jese Rodriguez, who really began to shine during the second half of last season before picking up an ACL injury in a Champions League tie against Schalke. Real Madrid have no need to sell Di Maria, but due to competition for places, even after the year he’s had, means a transfer away in the coming months is highly probable.
The question is whether Arsenal are in need of returning to the table for Di Maria. It would be highly inconsistent to label Cesc Fabregas a must-buy and then suggest Arsenal can pass on Di Maria if he becomes available. If anything, the Argentine will address a far greater need in the Arsenal squad than their former captain.
Arsene Wenger needs natural wide players ahead of next season. Injury to Theo Walcott left the team terribly exposed last term, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the only clear alternative, being used in the centre of midfield.
At this stage, it seems as though Arsenal are looking to bring Alexis Sanchez to the Emirates. At the very least, they should be kicking the tyres on a deal for the Chilean, who Barcelona are said to be prepared to sell. Such a deal would negate the need for Di Maria this summer.
Manchester United, on the other hand, would do well to use up part of their reported £200million budget on the Argentine. Louis van Gaal won’t be short of creativity in the final third next season, but he will be short of genuine quality in the wide positions. None of Ashley Young, Nani or Antonio Valencia are of the class of Di Maria, who laid on 17 assists in league play alone last season.
Di Maria can be used to good effect on either wing; last season he tore through Barcelona’s right flank with stunning regularity and ease. He may have been aided by Neymar’s unwillingness to track back, but United really could do with a player like that who can cause such uncertainty in the final third.
An important factor is what Louis van Gaal will want in his squad next season. Di Maria fits the bill of a typical United winger, but will he be to the new manager’s liking? With Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata needing to be accommodated in the starting XI, it’s possible that van Gaal could offer up something similar to his formations used with the Netherlands at this World Cup.
Arsenal look to have moved on, though in the transfer market u-turns are common. For now, however, Alexis and Mario Balotelli are higher priorities for Wenger’s side.