Much has been made of Louis van Gaal’s dealings in the transfer market since he was appointed as Manchester United manager in May 2014.
The Dutchman has overseen a huge turnover of players at Old Trafford, spending just over a quarter of a billion pounds on new players and letting Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and many others leave the club.
Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but out of all the stars that Van Gaal has allowed to leave, the Dutchman shouldn’t have agreed to the sale of two players in particular. He may regret his decisions if United miss out on Champions League qualification.
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Darren Fletcher came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford and chalked up an impressive 342 appearances for United before moving to West Brom in February 2015.
Van Gaal made Fletcher one of his vice-captains upon arrival and the 32-year-old has since gone on to establish himself as the Baggies’ skipper under Tony Pulis.
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The vastly experienced midfielder overcame ulcerative colitis whilst at United and you can see those fighting qualities every time he steps onto the pitch.
Fletcher is an excellent reader of the game, he anticipates situations very well and he’s not afraid to be tenacious and make tackles. The former United man is also very neat and tidy in possession and keeps things ticking over in the middle of the park.
With Bastian Schweinsteiger’s injury issues and Michael Carrick out of contract in the summer, United could really have done with Fletcher in the squad right now.
The Scottish international has played every Premier League game for West Brom this season and that kind of consistency would have provided the calming influence Van Gaal craves.
Angel di Maria
Van Gaal has been Man United’s manager for just under two seasons but that has been enough time for him to both buy and sell a world-class talent in Angel di Maria.
After a bitterly disappointing spell in Manchester on and off the pitch, the Argentine international joined Paris Saint-Germain for around £44 million last summer and this year he’s been back to his best.
Although the Parisians were knocked out of the Champions League by United’s neighbours Man City, they have dominated French football yet again and Di Maria has been instrumental in that.
The 28-year-old has scored 15 times in all competitions during his debut season in the French capital, including the winning goal in last month’s Coupe de la Ligue Final against Lille. He also has the most assists (16) in Ligue 1.
In many ways, the winger’s style of play represents everything that Van Gaal’s team have sorely lacked this term. Di Maria, who moved to Old Trafford for a British record fee, possesses pace, acceleration, agility and vision. His dribbling is excellent, he can cross, and brings overall quality to the final third of the pitch.
Last summer and throughout this season, Van Gaal has claimed that “fast, creative players” are what United need in order to achieve success once again. In terms of attacking talent across Europe at the moment, there are few players as quick, as creative and as technically-gifted as Di Maria. shame that the PSG star couldn’t make a bigger impact in English football.
It's a shame that the PSG star didn't couldn’t make a bigger impact in English football.
Who else should Manchester United have kept? Have your say in the comments.