It is no secret that Angel Di Maria’s season in Manchester hasn’t been what anyone would’ve expected. He came with high billing, costing Manchester United 59.7 million pounds. When we obtained Di Maria, he was considered one of the best midfielders in the entire world. After his first season with United however, his reputation has been significantly tarnished.
When he first arrived, he performed like the superstar we knew he was. In his first 5 games, he obtained 3 goals, and 3 assists. The fans immediately began to love him, and became excited about his future at the club. So what exactly happened to Di Maria? Most people look back to the match against Hull, on November 29. Up until this point, Di Maria had performed as expected. But from this point in the season on, Di Maria would simply not be the same. In this match, he picked up a nasty hamstring injury, and was swiftly substituted in exchange for Ander Herrera. Could this have been the catalyst to Di Maria’s future problems?
Regardless of what may have caused this inability to perform, it is hard to argue that Di Maria is currently first team material. Especially when Herrera, Fellaini, and Mata are all in such inspired form. So what to do with our Argentine star? Many call for his exit, as rumors accumulate of a big cash-in deal with PSG, and many other world-class clubs. Another huge, and rather entertaining rumour is a swap-in for the Welsh superstar Gareth Bale. This one is especially interesting, because Bale is such a complete and terrific player. It is one rumor that I’m sure many of us would love to believe. However, the responsible, and wise decision may not be the popular one.
Most analytics, and seasoned journalists agree that the best move is not to sell him. And in this, I believe there is truth. To explain why this option may be the best, we first rewind to the case of Marouane Fellaini. Last season when first brought to Old Trafford, he was a very different man than the hulking, playmaking midfielder we now have. As fans may recall, he did practically nothing notable all season long. Fans called for his head along with Moyes, and reports suggest that they nearly got it. A late injury is believed to have prevented the sale of Fellaini. Given continued training and hard work, he came good. He is now a regular in the first team, and provides great strength and combativeness in our midfield. If he would have been sold, chances are we wouldn’t have gotten much out of it, and likely regretted it later on. However we stuck to him, and he came good in the end. So what does this say for Di Maria?
By most people’s eyes, Di Maria is not only “better” by nature than Fellaini, but also more experienced. He has played alongside players like Messi, and many other world class attackers in his Argentina duties. Not even to mention his time at Real alongside Ronaldo, Benzema, and the other powerhouses in that squad. To think that a player of this caliber will never be the same after one season of hard-adjustment is a bit mad. If we decide to hold onto Di Maria, and use the summer break to shape him back up, many believe he will be the Di Maria of old. And it’s hard to deny that an in-form Di Maria is among the best on the planet at what he does. The end point is this. If we let him go, we will likely buy a player such as Bale, or some other insanely expensive winger. Do we cash in and take this option? Or do we wait it out and revive the man we know still lies within. It is a decision that only one man gets to make. As supporters, regardless of what we think is right, we can only look to Van Gaal to make the call. Until he does, we can continue to go mad with gossip, speculation, and hope.