Angel Di Maria – A Fan Perspective
Guest Post Provided by @MeringueMayar
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Breaking the British transfer record, Manchester United signed the Argentinian Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for a fee of £59.7 million, reportedly £300,000 a week in wages and a substantial reputation as a top name player. He arrived with much furore; as you would expect from a player who has just won the UEFA Champions League, and meriting such a high fee. It was a show of financial strength, as well as a proof that the Red Devils are still amongst Europe’s elite in the market.
One season later and it’s not looking like “Angelito” has done anything to sparkle in the cloudy skies of Manchester.
He started the season in a very exciting fashion: scoring 3 goals in 4 matches – I personally had him in my Fantasy Premier League team at the time and reaped a respectable amount of points from him. Unfortunately, that’s all he scored in the whole EPL campaign. Throughout the season, he notched up 10 assists – second only to assist king Cesc Fabregas, but a series of uninspiring displays led him to be dropped to the bench for much of the last 3 months. Di Maria’s marauding runs and direct style of play, was incompatible with Van Gaal’s meticulous methods and tendency for patient build-up play.
To top it all off, he received a comical red card during United’s FA Cup quarter-final match with Arsenal. After getting booked for diving, he protested; and in a moment of frustration, he tugged at the referee’s (Mike Oliver) shirt, for which he was given a second yellow and duly sent off.
The arrival of Memphis Depay for £25 millions from PSV Eindhoven has triggered more alarms for Di Maria. The Netherlands’s 21-years old prodigy has been signed in style, his former manager within the national team set up-Louis van Gaal- serving as a significant catalyst for the move. He is usually used as an inverted left winger; but as the future of striker Robin van Persie is currently shrouded in mystery, I expect van Gaal to play with the idea of converting Depay to a main striker, because he has all the means and abilities to succeed there, but that’s another discussion.
As a left footed player, Di Maria’s favoured position is on the right wing. It is also possible for him to play in a central attacking midfield position, but this is the manager’s problem to solve. Wayne Rooney has been played in the midfield for some time last season, Juan Mata is primarily an attacking midfielder, youngster Adnan Januzaj could also be pushing for a starting berth, as well as the aforementioned Depay who will be looking to make a position his own. The competition at United could prove tough for the Argentinian wizard.
Predictably, the rumour mill started producing transfer news of all kinds. A player of the calibre of the ex-Madridista would have many suitors from all around Europe, but he would also command a very high fee. This leaves very few clubs who are able to realistically buy him: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Paris Saint Germaine.
FC Hollywood, aka Bayern Munich, are usually capable of getting any player they want. Acquiring Di Maria wouldn’t be an issue for them, except that they already have a handful of players in his position such as Gotze, Muller, Robben, and Ribery. It is hard to see Real Madrid buying back someone who they had purposely sold a season ago, and their rivals FC Barcelona are transfer banned until January, which should rule them out for now.
PSG and Manchester City have the financial power that makes them capable of financing such deals, but the new Financial Fair Play rulings could see them acting with more restraint than usual.
As it stands, all signs point to a second season at Old Trafford for the Argentina international. He did give a rather self-critical interview back in my, about his current situation:
“I’m not happy with my first year in England,” he said. “I moved here from Real to win titles and this season has been very bad for me. I’m frustrated because I want to do better.
“The fans in England have not seen the real Di Maria. I know I can offer a better level. This year was not good enough.”
We do agree, Angel. Real Madrid fans are fully aware of the Argentinian’s wizardry: he would dribble through world class players like they were Glen Johnson clones, then deliver a title winning cross – such as the 2011 Copa del Rey final- and go celebrate by making his famous heart symbol.
He has in his bag a wide variety of dazzling tricks and zig zagging runs, as well as being one of the first players to come to mind when the word “rabona” is mentioned. His defensive contributions are also a big plus for any team: former manager Jose Mourinho drilled the defensive resilience into him during their time together in Madrid. Sure, Angelito’s first season in England didn’t turn out to match this praise, but the Old Trafford faithful are hoping for him to justify his price tag and potential. At the time of writing, the Copa America 2015 is in action, and Di Maria’s Argentina have reached the final, with him being pivotal in their performances so far.
What does all of this mean to the Fantasy Football world? If the 27-years old hits a purple patch and lights up the Premier League at any time of the season, fantasy managers would be very ill advised to leave him out of their squads, especially as his price will hopefully drop for the new season. If Manchester United get Angel di Maria to start performing, their attacking prowess would be mouthwatering. Lots of time left to ponder fantasy decisions, but if you’re willing to gamble with your first line-up, a bet on this red devil might pay dividends.
Let’s hear from YOU below – how do you think Di Maria will fare in his 2nd season??
Football Fever. Madridista, Gunner. Marina and the Diamonds *heart* Video games are a form of art.
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