Angel Di Maria has endured a roller coaster first season in Manchester. His £60m signing from Real Madrid was the jewel in Van Gaal’s new era at Old Trafford, after a superb World Cup, the Argentine was arguably one of the top three most sought after superstars in the world.
Following a bright start to his career in England, his performances tailed off dramatically, suddenly people were beginning to question both the player and the manager who did so much to bring him to the club.
His recent injuries and suspensions have coincided with United enjoying, possibly, their best spell under their new manager. So with that in mind should Di Maria be recalled for the Manchester Derby this weekend and have his poor performances been over exaggerated?
The media in this country love to hype up a player and then dismiss them as has-beens just as quickly; for Di Maria, check Ozil, for Ozil, check Torres. A multi-million pound flop is a great story so the demise of the winger quickly made back pages of the nation’s red tops.
However, in a season of struggle, one statistic sticks out like a sore thumb, he has been directly involved in 14 of the 29 goals United have scored whilst he has been on the field of play. A feat few players in the world, let alone the league can rival.
In terms of creating, only Cesc Fabregas at Chelsea can boast a better record for supplying others with goals. Even against Aston Villa his 20 minute appearance was enough to supply yet another goal for his team mates.
United’s resurgence has come in tandem with Van Gaal’s move away from his favoured 3-5-2, away from the formulaic 4-4-2 and reverting to a fluid 4-3-3. Although Di Maria has not been in the team, the man who currently holds his position is Ashley Young and for all of the improvements shown by the former Villa man, he still does not hold a candle to the mercurial former Galactico.
Pablo Zabaleta, his cross city rival, has recently come out and defended his Argentine team mate saying “I have no doubts he will become a success.” The City full back also alluded to the fact that Angel may have some struggles off the pitch, which is completely understandable, he is adapting to a completely different culture and way of life to his previous clubs in Portugal and Spain.
A hefty price tag gives people the assumption that everything will be a success instantly, but football so often works on the contrary. Very few players can come to a new league and flourish straight away and although Di Maria has been nowhere near as bad as people would have you believe, there is still much more to come from the former Real Madrid man.
With ten assists to his name and games still to come, he could prove to be a vital component in a team that ensures European football returns to Old Trafford. £60m may prove to be a snip after all.