Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville believes Louis van Gaal was right to sign Angel di Maria over Alexis Sanchez last summer.
Di Maria, who joined United for a British transfer record fee worth £59.7 million from Real Madrid, has failed to set the Premier League alight since completing his big-money transfer last August.
Sanchez, meanwhile, has been a revelation at the Emirates Stadium following his £35 million transfer from Barcelona. The Chile international has scored a superb 18 goals in his first 32 appearances for the Gunners.
Neville: Van Gaal right to sign Di Maria over Sanchez
But, despite that, current England coach Neville still feels Van Gaal made the right decision and expects Di Maria to eventually emerge as a “fantastic signing”.
“Obviously Sanchez has had a far bigger impact and a better season than Di Maria. But if you would have asked me at the start of the season; Sanchez or Di Maria – I would have said Di Maria,” Neville revealed on talkSPORT, according to the Mirror.
“I like Sanchez as well, but I would have said Di Maria at the start of the season.
“Di Maria and Shaw will prove to be fantastic signings for United, but they just need to perform to the level and they [Man United] need to get the best out of them.”
Di Maria was outstanding last season
While Neville’s comments may come as a surprise to some, it’s worth noting that Di Maria was unquestionably one of Europe’s most outstanding performers last season.
That Real Madrid agreed to sell the Argentina international shortly after his Man of the Match performance in the Champions League final - the match in which Los Blancos finally won La Decima - came as a shock to most.
The reigning European giants secured big deals for James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, and decided Di Maria was the man who should make way once Manchester United tabled their huge offer.
Sanchez better this season - so far...
But the 27-year-old has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League this season - unlike Sanchez, who is firmly on course to repay his own hefty transfer fee.
Arsenal’s No. 17 has scored 12 goals and contributed seven assists in 21 Premier League appearances this season - while Di Maria has scored three and set up 10 more for his teammates in 17 league matches.
Both players fall into the world-class bracket - even if Di Maria has yet to prove himself in England’s top-flight - and the Argentine, at his best, is arguably an even more effective player than Sanchez.
Di Maria could be a better signing in the long run
There’s a reason why he cost Manchester United almost £25 million more than the fee Arsenal paid Barcelona for Sanchez - and why Cristiano Ronaldo was so upset to see his former teammate leave the Bernabeu.
But there are no two ways about it: Di Maria must improve. Van Gaal has played him in a variety of positions and barring a few eye-catching performances at the start of the season, the ex-Real Madrid star has looked nothing like his former self.
An attempted burglary at his Cheshire home last month has not helped matters, and neither have injuries, but Di Maria has the talent to still - in the long term - prove himself to be an even better buy than Sanchez.
Is Neville right: were Manchester United right to snub Sanchez in favour of Di Maria? Have your say in the comments below!