It would seem that the executioner at the Santiago Bernabeu is never afforded a minute of rest. His ears remain pricked for command and his axe is ever-sharp, ready to be wielded on the head of the latest Galactico being flushed out the exit door.
For the Real Madrid merry-go-round of talent, which has been steadily turning since Florentino Perez changed the ethos of the club upon assuming presidency at the turn of the millennium, looks set to spring more surprises before the end of the transfer window. None but Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are truly safe from exile at the Spanish giants; the sale of Mesut Ozil proved that last summer.
Yet, as though determined to awe the rest of the footballing world by one-upping themselves each summer Carlo Ancelotti is preparing for an even bigger departure; one which rightfully has the majority of managers open mouthed in disbelief.
You don’t have to be a transfer guru to be well in-the-know when it comes to the hype surrounding Angel di Maria’s potentially imminent departure, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a strong opinion on the matter. If, like me, you rate him as one of the most gifted players on the planet then you’ll be wondering quite what the big-wigs in the Madrid boardroom are up to.
Perez has never been a man suffer anyone but the very best wearing the pure white strip of Los Blancos for very long, but his latest scheme to fund the imports of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez is nothing short of lunacy.
The likes of Sami Khedira, Alvaro Arbeloa and even to some extent Iker Casillas may be dispensable assets who could leave tomorrow and not massively impact the squad’s fortunes, but Di Maria is fresh from completing his rise to the sport’s summit, and judging from his recent showing he’s not that far away from the cloud upon which Ronaldo and Lionel Messi sit.
Di Maria the transfer market's best?
For the Argentina international isn’t just amongst the elite who routinely turn out on the hallowed turf of Madrid, he’s up there with the very best football has to offer, and certainly the most eye-catching ‘attainable’ asset this summer. That’s why both Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain continue to make inroads towards landing him, despite his rumoured €65 million price tag.
Though Di Maria’s always been a handful when used on the flanks it’s under Ancelotti, where the arrival of Gareth Bale saw him take up a central midfield role, where he reached the next level of player. Now capable of occupying virtually any attacking position on the pitch, the 26-year-old should be considered one of the gems of this Madrid side. Instead he finds himself a relative outcast.
Even a man of the match performance in the Champions League final last term, and then a series of impressive showings for Argentina at the World Cup, haven’t been enough to stay the ruthless cogs of a Madrid machine which persist in flogging the finished article whilst undertaking a never-ending search for what it deems to be 'better'. Being great at the Bernabeu just isn’t enough.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Yet there remains light at the end of the tunnel for Di Maria, and a switch to either PSG or United would given him the adoration he’s been wrongly bereft of for the better part of four years in Spain. Laurent Blanc and Co. may have trouble financing said deal, thanks in part to their profligacy when it came to signing David Luiz earlier on this summer, but their English counterparts bear no such burden.
Van Gaal and United are crying out for players of Di Maria’s repute and ability, and the fact that he’s essentially regarded as wastage at his current club will matter very little to the supporters of the Red Devils.
In this respect Madrid’s loss can be United’s gain, and such a switch could have a lasting effect on Di Maria’s fortunes. The question remains however, are we going to see arguably the biggest transfer of the window happen before it slams shut?