Wingers in the Portuguese league and Manchester United seem to have gone hand in hand in recent times. The scouting network in European football has reached Portugal a lot since players from there have made a big impact when they have gone to the major domestic leagues in the continent. Angel di Maria, who plays for Benfica, is someone who is the latest in a line of many youngsters that appear destined to leave the Portuguese league and get snapped up by a leading club in Spain or England.
The clubs that have reportedly been interested in the Argentine winger are Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City. That is quite a list of clubs but the major contenders seem to be Barcelona and United. Pep Guardiola is bound to be looking for a long-term replacement for Thierry Henry and, with another target in Franck Ribery, apparently not joining the Spanish giants then Di Maria may become a priority. On the other hand, United are said to be interested in the 22-year-old although they have reportedly had a bid for the player rejected some six months ago. It remains to be seen whether they try once again this summer as a successful World Cup, where he is bound to feature heavily, could see his value increase. Continuing to score goals like this second one, below, would go a long way towards pleasing whoever he ends up playing for.
So, be it United or not, what can fans expect of him if he joins a major Champions League club? He has an excellent first touch, has a more than useful delivery for a winger and the flair that many players from Argentina possess. Another pleasing aspect of his is that he is willing to track back regularly, which he has demonstrated in his Europa League performances. Speaking of the Europa League, he has shown that playing against English teams is something he can handle considering the way he performed against Liverpool and Everton in this season’s competition. With a second leg to come at Anfield this Thursday night, what better opportunity to show Sir Alex Ferguson what he can do?
Di Maria is so highly regarded that when the influential Simao, a talismanic Benfica captain, left the club the president claimed that Di Maria is the perfect replacement. Playing alongside top internationals is also an invaluable learning experience and along with that he has already represented Argentina in the 2008 summer Olympics and ardent fans will remember him scoring the winner in the final with a sublime chip. He also won the U20 World Cup a year earlier.
So at the age of 22, and already having made some notable impressions on the game, where can the talented individual fit in at either United or Barcelona? The English team needs a winger to replace Ryan Giggs, and he would provide an alternative to Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ji-Sung Park. Whereas Barcelona are blessed with talented individuals and they don’t come better than Lionel Messi- an international team-mate. The system Barcelona play is suited to a fast winger and his style of play is most welcomed by United fans- the club has traditionally had fantastic wingers over the years. Could yet another one be on his way to Old Trafford?
The clip below shows Di Maria tormenting defenders, whilst displaying some outrageous skill.