Thierry Henry believes Manchester United sold Angel di Maria to Paris Saint-Germain this week because the Argentina international wasn’t disciplined enough for Louis van Gaal.
Henry, the former Arsenal and Barcelona striker who now works as a pundit for Sky Sports, feels Van Gaal should have provided Di Maria with a free role after signing the former Real Madrid star for such a large transfer fee last summer.
United paid £59.7 million for Di Maria 12 months ago, but sold him for just £46 million this week following a disappointing campaign at Old Trafford.
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“Louis van Gaal demands his teams to play a certain way,” the retired striker told talkSPORT. “It’s very demanding and well structured. If you’re a winger you have to stay wide, you can’t come in, you have to stay there.
“I know that exactly, because at Barcelona it was the same way, the Dutch way and the Barca way are very similar.
“From what I understand, that’s why it was difficult for Di Maria to adapt, because he’s a free spirit.
“You have to let him play and that’s how it was for him at Real Madrid; sometimes he played behind the striker, sometimes on the left or on the right, and sometimes he didn’t come back.
“You can’t do that at Manchester United, it’s too well structured.”
Henry had strict instructions under Guardiola
Indeed, Henry often talks about how Pep Guardiola would ask him to stay on the touchline during his spell with Barcelona.
The Frenchman claims Guardiola would sub him off if he strayed infield - and it seems Di Maria had similar strict instructions under Van Gaal last season.
Henry: Pedro is a better fit for United
But Henry believes Pedro, who flourished under Guardiola at the Camp Nou, will be a much better fit for both Manchester United and Van Gaal.
“At one point last season, they didn’t gel, so Van Gaal did something to make sure they were going to get results until the end of the season - they were more direct,” Henry added. “That’s why he went on to buy players this summer that can suit the way he wants to play - that’s why he wants Pedro.
“Pedro knows those tactics, he can do what Van Gaal wants. I’ve seen him at Barcelona, he was putting pressure on and staying out wide - he has it.”
Reports in Spain today suggest Manchester United could seal a deal for Pedro within the next few hours, but the Spanish World Cup winner will not arrive in time to feature against Tottenham on Saturday.
Manchester United fans: are you disappointed to see Angel di Maria leave Old Trafford? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below!