This week we have said goodbye to Rafael Da Silva and Angel Di Maria. Both have crossed the Channel to ply their trade in Ligue 1.
The reaction to their departures couldn’t have been more contrasting. Rafael’s exit was met with much sadness while I can’t imagine that there are too many fans who are really bothered to see Di Maria leave.
When Rafael and his twin brother Fabio joined in 2008 United fans hoped that we’d discovered the new Neville brothers and they would make the full back positions their own for the next decade. Fabio sadly never realised his potential but Rafael seemed to show signs that he would. At the end of his first season he was shortlisted as a nominee for the PFA Young Player of the Year award but was beaten to it by Ashley Young who was at Aston Villa at the time.
2012/13 was the season where Rafa looked like he’d established himself as our first choice right back with 40 appearances and 3 goals in all competitions. He even picked up the third of his three Premier League winners medals that season.
His departure was met with much sadness from players and fans who rushed to social media to share their gratitude and well wishes.
Someone who is unlikely to receive that same level of gratitude is Angel Di Maria. His arrival was met with such excitement but there were always whispers behind the scenes that his heart wasn’t in the move. Apart from the first few weeks his general performances and body language would back up that conspiracy.
I’d hoped that Di Maria would be around this year and show us what all the fuss was about. He will no doubt go onto win Ligue 1 with PSG but in England he will always suffer the same failure stigma that Juan Sebastian Veron never recovered from.
What Rafa lacked in talent his love for the club was evident and that is why he will be fondly remembered at Old Trafford while Di Maria will be quickly forgotten, especially with the impending arrival of Pedro from Barcelona.