Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria is set to have a medical in the next 24 hours before a proposed move to Paris St-Germain.
The winger arrived at Old Trafford last season for a British transfer record of £59.7million and at the time, the former Real Madrid man looked like a real coup for the Red Devils, a player who would help take United back to the good old days.
However, it all went horribly wrong for the Argentine play maker, who looks set to join PSG for £44.5m just 12 months after his big money move to the Premier League.
And if you cast your mind back to last September, in a crazy match at the King Power Stadium where United lost 5-3, the game was more memorable for Louis Van Gaal side’s surprising loss than the sublime goal Di Maria scored that day.
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It was a goal that was described by Gary Neville in his Telegraph column as “an example of everything I expected Di Maria to bring to the Premier League – pace, audacity and a moment of magic capable of turning a game.”
In many ways Neville was right. That is exactly the kind of thing Di Maria would bring to the table at Old Trafford, but moments like that were few and far between last season as Di Maria failed to justify his hefty price tag.
There were a number of reasons behind his poor season, however, as someone as good as the former Madrid man doesn’t turn in to a poor player overnight. He struggled to settle in Manchester and it subsequently affected his football.
The Argentine struggled with the language barrier , his house was burgled and “he was worried about his wife and child,” according to Louis van Gaal, with several others pointed out that he left Real Madrid against his wishes.
Di Maria was entitled to feel a bit aggrieved about that, too. He was the outstanding player in the Champions League final, helping Madrid secure La Decima, but then he was shipped off to United just weeks later.
Neville also added: “I had no thoughts whatsoever that his signing was a risk. I just believed he would come into the team and light the place up.”
He’s not the only one who expected that from Di Maria, but perhaps expectations were far too high for Di Maria to handle. He wasn’t used to carrying the hopes of his team on his shoulders.
All of that combined together made it difficult for the Argentine to settle into life at Old Trafford, and his performances suffered as a result. But that is not to say he can’t re-discover his best form.
And even in a struggling first season in England, Di Maria still managed 10 assists for the Reds, a number only bettered by Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla in the Premier League last season.
It’s a statistic made even more impressive by the fact Di Maria only started 20 league matches last season. And only Fabregas averaged a better minutes-per-assist than the United man, with his 160 minutes-per-assist edging out Di Maria’s 164.
Di Maria produced that when he was out of form and under performing, so just think what he could produce when he is in form, comfortable with his surroundings and settled in Manchester.
That is a prospect that could’ve occurred this coming season, as he will adapt and get used to life at Old Trafford, though his imminent move to Paris means we’ll never really know whether that would’ve been possible.