Gary Neville believes there are three key reasons behind Angel di Maria's lack of form - and insists that the Argentinian needs to start playing well soon if Manchester United are to make the top four this season.
Di Maria arrived at Old Trafford from Real Madrid in a record £59.7 million deal over the summer, and after a quick start to life in the Premier League has faded badly.
He's scored just twice since the start of October, with one goal coming against Yeovil in the FA Cup, and has been substituted regularly in recent games. Calls amongst Manchester United fans for the 27-year-old to be dropped have been growing ahead of their FA Cup quarter final clash against Arsenal on Monday.
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Writing in his column for the Daily Telegraph Neville, who now works as a pundit for Sky Sports, believes Di Maria's lack of form can be put down to three reasons, including the fact his Manchester house was targeted by thieves earlier this season.
"He has come to United when he did not want to leave Madrid, has suffered the trauma of a burglary, and started to work for a new manager while playing in a team that is still in a ‘storm’ phase of development.
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"All of those are factors that would go some way to explaining why Di Maria has struggled after his bright start, but I feel as though I have a parrot on either shoulder, with one telling me to give the benefit of the doubt because of those reasons while the other is saying that, actually, the time has come for a £60m player to deliver."
Di Maria managed three goals in his first five appearances for Manchester United, including a fine lob against Leicester at the King Power Stadium. Neville believes Di Maria should be capable of putting in those kinds of performances every week given his price tag.
I fully expected Di Maria and Luke Shaw to form a devastating partnership down the left flank and, even at close to £60m, I had no thoughts whatsoever that his signing was a risk. When he dribbled down the wing at the King Power Stadium before chipping the Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to score his second goal in three games since arriving from Madrid, the United fan in me was so excited and I was thinking, ‘Here we go!’
‘It was an example of everything I expected Di Maria to bring to the Premier League - pace, audacity and a moment of magic capable of turning a game. But since that day, Di Maria has scored just two more goals - one of them coming against Yeovil in the FA Cup - and he has quite simply looked a shadow of his former self.’