When he completed a £59.7 million move to Manchester United in summer 2014, Angel di Maria became the most expensive player in Premier League history. Only a year later, he was sold to PSG after struggling to settle in England. But given United’s attacking difficulties this season, they may be regretting his sale.
During his season at Old Trafford, the Argentine was in and out of the side, and made only 20 Premier League starts. Despite this, he was still an important player for United when on the pitch, scoring three goals and providing ten assists, more than any other player for the Red Devils.
After Christmas he was only ever a fringe player, and struggled to make the team, despite being named in the FIFA Team of the Year in January 2015. His final goal for the club came within just two weeks of the New Year, sealing a 2-0 win over Yeovil Town at Huish Park. He rarely made consecutive appearances after that.
Despite his under-par performances, it came as quite a shock when United sold di Maria to PSG at the end of the season, for a fee believed to be £44 million. He was never really replaced in Manchester, and his has shown in some of their matches this season.
It has been 11 home matches since Louis van Gaal’s side have scored a first half goal, and they have been heavily criticised for their style of play, which has seen them play what the Old Trafford faithful see as too slow and too defensive. This is certainly something that would change with di Maria still at the club.
In Ligue 1, he has rediscovered his top form, scoring eight goals and producing nine assists in just 14 starts in France. He has played fast, direct football for the French Champions, something that is desperately needed at Manchester United.
Di Maria wouldn’t have been the first player to struggle in his first season in England and thrive in the next. There is a good chance that van Gaal will be regretting selling the 27-year-old too early, especially given that it is his job on the line due to United’s poor form.