Angel Di Maria played fantastic against QPR last weekend in his home debut at Old Trafford for Manchester United. He provided the Red Devils with a goal and an assist in their 4-0 victory.
The quality which the Argentine showed during this game will be something that Manchester United hope lasts throughout the season as they aim for to achieve their target of playing Champions League football next season.
If they do and Di Maria is the cornerstone behind it, he could turn out to be one of the bargain transfers of the summer.
The 26-year-old transferred to Manchester United from Real Madrid this past summer transfer window for a fee of £59.7m on a five year deal. This is the highest transfer fee ever paid by a British club so you may be thinking, how on earth could this turn out to be a bargain buy?
Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid back in 2009, United have been crying out for someone to fill the legendary number seven shirt once worn by the likes of David Beckham and Eric Cantona. Ronaldo was sold to Madrid for a fee of £80m and has since left a void in the squad which United have tried – and failed – desperately to fill.
During his time in the Premier League with United, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 84 goals and provided 48 assists from 196 appearances. I believe Di Maria has been brought in to replicate this Cristiano Ronaldo. Whilst they don’t need the goals thanks to prolific goal scorers in Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and the recent arrival of Radamel Falcao, they do need someone to provide the assists. During his time in the La Liga at Real Madrid, Di Maria scored 22 goals and provided 62 assists in 124 appearances. This is 14 more assists in 72 less appearances than what Cristiano Ronaldo did during his time at United.
Di Maria has similar characteristics to Cristiano Ronaldo as well. Both players are strong at playing key passes, holding on to the ball, taking long shots, taking set pieces, and cutting inside. Quintessentially, you could say Di Maria is the poor man’s Cristiano Ronaldo if you consider the difference between rich and poor being just over £20m!
Many United fans have deemed Cristiano Ronaldo irreplaceable, but Di Maria may prove that he can come closer than any other player before him to replacing him. One of the add-ons in Di Maria’s contract with United is if the Argentine wins the FIFA Ballon d’Or, Madrid will receive an extra £4m.
Some critics consider this an ambitious clause in his contract that will never be activated. However, I believe it could be activated one day because of the similarities to Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has won the award once whilst with Madrid so with Di Maria being a similar type of player, he could be destined with the same fate.
There is one major difference between the two players which was mentioned above. Di Maria only cost United £59.7m whilst Cristiano Ronaldo cost Madrid £80m.
But buying a Ronaldo-esque player for just over £20m less? That’s what you call the bargain of the summer.
[ffcvideo file=”TopFiveVideosoftheWeek” type=”mp4″]