When star winger Angel Di Maria arrived at Manchester United from Real Madrid in a huge £59.7 million deal, many assumed that the Argentina international would help transform the Red Devils into title contenders following an extremely disappointing 2013-14 campaign. While Di Maria started his first and only season in England well, picking up three goals and six assists in his first dozen league matches, the former Benfica standout failed to crack the starting XI in league play after March 4th. In the final 10 Premier League matches of the 2014-15 season with Di Maria on the bench, Louis van Gaal’s were held scoreless four times and only managed to score from open play twice in their final six league games.
Di Maria previously claimed that the Dutchman was part of the reason for his move to PSG. “Van Gaal has his philosophy and one of the things that made me want to leave is that,” Di Maria told ESPN Radio Argentina in the summer. “It is difficult to adapt to Van Gaal. I had a couple of rows with him. I started well and after that I got injured, things didn’t go well for me and Van Gaal changed my position.” Along with Di Maria, it was reported earlier this week (following a 0-0 draw against PSV) that one anonymous current first-team Manchester United player stated that he is “half the player that he can be” under the club’s manager.
Another reason for Di Maria’s success so far with PSG is the opportunity to play with better players up front. The Parisians have one of the best overall attacks in the world with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Lucas Moura regularly teaming up with Di Maria at Parc des Princes. Compare that to the Argentine lining up with Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao a year ago and you can understand Di Maria’s smooth transition back to being a world-class player for PSG.
Surely the year with Manchester United is fairly embarrassing and will be a blemish on his career; however, Di Maria now finds himself in a more positive place, where he personally fits better with his current club. With the addition of Di Maria, PSG now has a daunting roster from top to bottom and this could be a supremely special season for the reigning Ligue 1 champions. According to SkyBet, PSG have the fourth-best odds to win this season’s UEFA Champions League at 12-to-1, while Manchester United are listed at 28-to-1.
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