Angel di Maria is like Arjen Robben says Louis van Gaal

Van Gaal celebrates World Cup success with Arjen Robben (©GettyImages)

Louis van Gaal is confident new acquisition Angel di Maria will be capable of having an impact similar to that made by Arjen Robben at Bayern Munich when he arrived at the Allianz Arena from Real Madrid five years ago.

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Record deal

Di Maria was announced as Manchester United’s club record signing on Monday evening, with a fee of £59.7 million agreed for his signature, and it is naturally expected that he will develop into a player of great importance under Van Gaal.

The Manchester United manager was in charge at Bayern Munich when the Bundesliga champions recruited Robben, while the Netherlands international also flourished during the time the two spent together with the national side.

Di Maria, claims Van Gaal, offers versatility across the midfield and forward line just as Robben does, and will allow the team to adapt between a number of systems more effectively.

Robben comparison

"I have bought Di Maria because he can play inside and wide," Van Gaal told reporters. "It's very handy is that for a coach.

"So maybe you remember when I was trainer-coach of Bayern Munich, I bought Arjen Robben, also in late August.

“He could also play on the wings and inside so then I have always the opportunity to change [tactics] but that is a process."

Where does he fit?

It remains to be seen where Van Gaal does decide to deploy Di Maria. Slotting the Argentina international into the current 3-4-1-2 formation would not appear the most effective way to get the best from him.

Wing-back would not be his natural position, despite his pace and crossing ability, while he and Ander Herrera would hardly make the most robust partnership if both were paired together in the centre of the Manchester United midfield.

The supposed pursuit of another midfielder, seemingly most likely to be Arturo Vidal, may well suggest that Van Gaal will choose to operate with a diamond system as his first choice, switching back to four defenders.

It has been clear, so far at least, that the formation adopted most often by Van Gaal at the World Cup this summer is not working at Old Trafford, and it is likely he would have to change it if he is to allow his record signing to flourish.

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