So much was hyped up about Manchester United’s purchase of Argentine, Angel di Maria from Real Madrid last season.
It looked as though this shroud bit of business as well as other purchases from Van Gaal and company was going to help restore United’s place as genuine title contenders.
And the hefty price tag of £57.9 million seemed to have weighed down on Di Maria, who instead of rising to the pressure to help United push on in the campaign, looked like a liability in certain games and a shadow of the player we saw at Real Madrid in previous seasons.
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So what has happened to the Argentine winger? I think it would be unfair to say that his desire to play at his best level is passed. Di Maria is a fine player, who at 27-years-old still has his plenty of his prime left to play out.
He showed glimpses last season of his true potential, once such mention was his delightful chip against Leicester City at the King Power stadium, which was just what the United fans wanted to see span across the whole thirty eight games of the Premier League season.But sadly, little else followed after.
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PRESSURE OF QUALIFYING FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
With the appointment of Louis van Gaal as Manchester United manager came the impressive C.V. of one of the greatest managers available. What also accompanied that success and experience was the determination to bring United back to where the club has been for the last two decades: to the top of the table.
But last season was a difficult campaign for Manchester United, who opened up their first ten games in embarrassing fashion, notching up the worst record to a season since 1986-87.
This put the likes of Di Maria under pressure to perform to the top level in every game. Spending time at the Bernabeu, he would have known what sort of pressure he was to expect at Old Trafford, but he had one thing at Madrid that United didn't have last term: a stable team to play in who were winning trophies.
Real Madrid had the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, Sami Khedira, Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos, all who had been playing for the club for some time and had the camaraderie that comes with time.
United on the other hand were trying to gel six new players, including Di Maria into a squad that was transitioning and recovering from a seventh place finish the season before – their worst ever in the Premier League.
No easy feat to deal with for a new signing with the expectation to deliver immediately and coming from a side who were winning easily.
THE PERSONAL ISSUES
Off the pitch, Di Maria had to deal with the terrifying ordeal of an attack on his home.
This callousness would affect any person worried about their family and with a professional in the limelight at arguably the biggest football club in the world, Di Maria has suffered in his performances for United, cutting a figure of a man who looked lost on a football pitch, with sloppy passing and poor finishing.
LACK OF SELF BELIEF
With these two issues holding him back, a natural lack of self belief has followed. Di Maria has struggled to move forward with his United career, at times looking unsure attacking and looking like a player who wants to be anywhere else but on the pitch.
As we've seen with Radamel Falcao at United this season, once you're in this rut, it's difficult to escape it. With fans calling for attacking football and showing their distain at poor decision making on the pitch, it's no wonder Di Maria is struggling.
SO WHAT NEXT?
Rumours are surfacing that Di Maria is about to sign with PSG, who have been pursuing him for a number of months now. They hope that they can lure him away from Old Trafford and away from his apparent problems in the North of England for a new life in France.
Some will feel he has more to offer in Manchester but if he wants to go, how can you keep a player who doesn't want to play for the club?
Should he stay or go? What do you think?
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