The signing of Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid is considered by many to be a coup for Manchester United, they paid a record breaking British transfer fee of almost £60m for the Argentinian international. Such a transfer fee is bound to draw much speculation and put pressure on the player to perform.
Di Maria’s pedigree is not in question, he made 17 assists in La Liga for Real last season, the most in the Spanish top flight and also the most in Europe’s top 5 leagues, with Rooney and van Persie In the side United have the players who can finish off those chances. He did only manage 4 goals last season, a tally he’ll be expected to improve on if he is to justify his price tag. A lack of goals is also an issue considering how reliant United were on Rooney and van persie last season, the pair scoring 29 (17 and 12 respectively) of United’s 64 goals, they lacked goals from other sources and Di Maria will surely have to become a source of goals.
The real issue is where Di Maria will fit into Van Gaal’s United side, so far the Dutchman has persisted with a 3-4-3 system, which hasn’t really worked out. United lack natural wing backs, Luke Shaw is predicted to fill the void on the left when he returns from injury, but the right side is a position yet to be filled. I’m not sure Di Maria is the man to fill it either, despite being a right sided player.
He made just 1.3 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per game last season. A lot more is needed if he is to play as a wing back, in a role where defending is just as important as the attacking work.
Di Maria’s natural position is on the right, he predominantly played on the right of a midfield 3 whilst at Real Madrid last season, should United use that system he could prosper once more. That would almost certainly involve playing a back 4, which United’s defenders would be more comfortable with but may not be the direction Van Gaal wants to go in.
Statistics courtesy of whoscored.com