Does mooted Di Maria move to PSG show lack of ambition or trophy intent?
Reports that Manchester United club-record signing Angel Di Maria is set to join Ligue 1 big-guns PSG (14/1 chances with Coral to win the Champions League) imminently just won’t go away and, after the Argentine failed to link-up with Louis van Gaal’s squad for pre-season, the exit looms.
Such a switch would be a shame for, and reflects badly on, both club and player, with accusations of a lack of ambition aimed at the Argentine, who could soon be pulling on the Parisians’ navy blue jersey, leaving the famed number seven Red Devils shirt discarded.
To throw in the towel at Old Trafford following such a big money move, surrendering the legacy of the likes of George Best, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo among others does, on the surface at least, suggest a rather weak mentality. Yet rumour has it last summer that Di Maria always favoured the French capital.
Since several Ligue 1 clubs became flush with foreign cash investment, it has been viewed by elitists as an early retirement home for players still hoping to compete on the continent, with the lesser rigours of the domestic league and luxury lifestyle of a last big payday combining to make it a more attractive alternative to the MLS.
Although stints from the likes of Ricardo Carvalho and David Beckham may have done much to boost Gallic football’s profile, they may not have helped that particular perception, though it should be noted that the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Edinson Cavani, David Luiz, Javier Pastore and arguably Zlatan Ibrahimovic all plumped for Paris in their pomp.
Perhaps dangerous Di Maria who, admittedly only showed flashes of his formidable talent in Manchester red last term, has much more valid reasons for crossing the Channel and pitching up camp in France than fans of English football may wish to admit.
Certainly, arriving in a league of a lesser overall standard, having been an integral cog in Real Madrid’s La Decima-winning squad in 2014, playing at the peak of his powers under Carlo Ancelotti and pulling the strings behind Cristiano Ronaldo and co, can only be viewed as a step down.
However, an artist such as Di Maria needs confidence and support to flourish, especially after coming under scrutiny several times in the pressure-cooker climate of the Bernabeu, as the winger strove to carve a role for himself, before being brutally discarded despite his Champions League heroics.
Ancelotti had found a perfect fit for the flexible attacker, switching Di Maria from the wing to a central attacking role, in which he looked a leader and his skills shone in a freer and more influential position on the pitch.
Di Maria at his delightful best for Real:
The midfielder’s talents were not to Van Gaal’s tastes though, seemingly, with the Argentina international, often an inspiration for his nation, shunted back out wide, on the bench or even as a forward during his problem-plagued first Premier League campaign. When the superstar needed an arm around his shoulders, he instead found a seat on the sidelines.
Now Man Utd (20/1 for Champions League glory) are said to be searching for a marquee player, when there is one already at their disposal. Van Gaal recently came out to state “I think we still need more speed in front and also more creativity, and that is why I want Di Maria to stay, but, we don’t know that so we will have to see.” Yet, it could be too little too late.
Watch Di Maria highlights for Man Utd:
Apparently also unhappy after failing to take to the northwest of England, Di Maria could find France suits all his needs. Yes, high wages, but also the likelihood of a haul of domestic trophies, and the chance to recapture the form of his final Madrid season, or that of his dazzling displays for Benfica, when he excelled as the main creative hub. Can Old Trafford realistically offer all that?
Then there is the holy grail of the Champions League. PSG have been knocking on that door for some time, making the quarter-finals for the last three terms. Do they now have a better chance of lifting the trophy than their English counterparts? A magnificent victory with 10 men over Chelsea last season, while United did not even qualify, suggests they have just as much, if not more, promise.
A project is under construction in Paris so, while alternative England or Spain switches are off the table, with a Bayern Munich move already scotched and Italy always unlikely, France could really fit the bill for Di Maria.