Angel Di Maria’s first season at Old Trafford may not have come close to his heroics of ‘La Decima’, but the Argentine must not be ruled out as a candidate for Player of the Year in the upcoming campaign.
His brilliance is undoubted, but the ex-Madrid man has become quite an under rated talent in a rebuilt Manchester United squad. Di Maria will not even be under consideration for the award by many, but, as it stands, his is at very least a dark horse to rival Eden Hazard for the award he won last season.
The slightly underwhelming first season for Di Maria can be put down to a number of factors. Van Gaal’s tactical fidgeting will not have been beneficial to many players, but a player trying to settle at a new club, and country, would have found this subsequently more challenging than many others.
His time at Real Madrid was not entirely plain sailing either, but preparing for a move to Manchester United as their marquee signing of the summer was an entirely different proposition.
Arriving at Old Trafford, Di Maria had great expectation thrust upon his shoulders and he started well. Probably a combination of fatigue and injuries saw the Argentine’s form drop to great criticism. The change from 3-5-2, 4-3-3 and other systems will have made it a challenge for Di Maria as he moved from central midfield roles to a wide man in a 4-3-3, he will hope there is a greater stability in his Dutch manager’s tactics in 2015/16.
It is now likely that Manchester United will line-up in a 4-3-3 system this season, with the additions of Depay, Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger. The three big signings will drop the level of expectation on Di Maria and should give the Argentine greater freedom. If in a 4-3-3, he is likely to play right-winger with Depay on the left, or even partner the two new men in central midfield.
Di Maria will be hoping that the additions provide him with a higher calibre of team mate to work with, whilst he may be hoping of a chance to play wide in a 4-2-3-1 system, much like he did during the majority of his time at Real Madrid.
If Manchester United are to be a true force again this season, its highly likely that Di Maria will be absolutely pivotal in much of their success. One slightly below par campaign (which has been exaggerated by many) should certainly not warrant the sale of such a wonderful player and many people writing off the ex-Real man could be left with egg on their face by May.
Other than notable fatigue and effects of injury, Di Maria was not as ineffectual as many have given the impression of from last season. This is a player who was the star of Real Madrid’s latest Champions League win and is not only a wonderful crosser of the ball and dribbler, but a hard worker for his side.
With the potential that Di Maria has to impact on United’s season, selling their record signing would undo all of the good work from this summer transfer window.
If van Gaal is able to bring the side back to the best days of Ferguson, Di Maria is going to be high in contention for the player of the year award come May.