Gary Neville has backed Manchester United's record-signing Angel di Maria to come good at Old Trafford next season after a disappointing debut campaign in the Premier League.
The Argentina international has underwhelmed since making a £59.7 million move from Real Madrid last summer, but such is the quality of the 27-year-old that the former Red Devils skipper thinks he has to improve his level of performance at the Theatre of Dreams next term.
Neville points to fellow midfielders Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata as examples of first-team players that have successfully raised their game under the tutelage of Louis van Gaal, and he's adamant that Di Maria will follow suit in 2015/16.
Article continues below
However, he did warn the South American that failure to do so could result in the player being sold next year as there's only so many chances that the veteran Dutch coach will be willing to give.
Di Maria has contributed just three goals in 26 league appearances for Manchester United and has struggled to establish his place in the starting XI. He did not feature at all in yesterday's 1-1 draw with top four rivals Arsenal, and will be expected to deliver much more in the future.
Article continues below
Speaking about Manchester United's need to strengthen in wide areas over the summer, Neville conceded that Van Gaal does need to bring in further reinforcements, regardless of whether or not the 2014 World Cup finalist rediscovers his best form.
“United do need wide players,” he told his weekly Sky Sports Podcast. “Ashley Young has had a fantastic season but, as much as he’s done well out there in recent months, Juan Mata isn’t a wide right player.
“It will be interesting to see what happens with Angel Di Maria as well.
“Actually, I believe in Di Maria as a player. We’ve watched him a lot for Real Madrid and you could see his level of performance was outstanding.
“That’s not happened this season and you’re thinking Ashley Young has done better this season, [Maraoune] Fellaini’s been better, Mata’s done better. Is Di Maria going to do better under Van Gaal?”
Van Gaal has already addressed that problem area by negotiating an early deal for Manchester United to sign PSV Eindhoven's fleet-footed forward Memphis Depay; a player that's been likened to Cristiano Ronaldo in playing style and capable of playing on either flank, as well as in a more central striker role.
The 21-year-old is poised to move to England in a £25 million deal, subject to agreeing personal terms and passing a medical, and based on his displays in the Eredivisie this season will certainly provide another exciting attacking option for the former Netherlands boss.
Manchester United fans: Do you think Angel di Maria will come good at Old Trafford next season? Or do you think he'll end up being sold by Louis van Gaal? Share your thoughts in the comment box below...