Manchester United fans are preparing to say goodbye to their record signing Angel di Maria, bringing an end to a short relationship that once promised so much, yet delivered so little. The Argentinian failed to report for pre-season training last month, severing ties with the Red Devils and paving the way to his imminent move to PSG.
The consensus has been that it was Di Maria's personal problems that stopped him recreating his success with Real Madrid at Old Trafford. It was too cold, too wet and too dangerous in Manchester.
His attempts at settling in England's grey north were not helped by a group of armed men who tried, yet failed, to force their way into his Cheshire mansion. The incident left Di Maria's wife and child traumatised. The fact that it coincided with a downturn in form left few in any doubt. Di Maria's failure was no one's fault, but a set of unfortunate circumstances that amplified his homesickness and supercharged his exit.
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However, the Times journalist Oliver Kay has written extensively about the fractured relationship that both Louis van Gaal and Di Maria shared. It details how Di Maria grew so disillusioned with life under the Dutch coach that he even instructed representatives to offer his services to local rivals Manchester City.
Right from the beginning it seemed as if the £59.7million paid to sign Di Maria from Real Madrid was a deal done to enhance the reputation of United's struggling executive Ed Woodward. The vice-chairman wanted a marquee signing to prove his worth in the Old Trafford boardroom, eventually agreeing to pay an extraordinary fee for a player Florentino Perez was desperate to sell.
Di Maria arrived having outshined both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final. He was at the peak of his powers and was capable of having a team built around him. However, Van Gaal immediately implemented a system ill-fitted to his talents. The first cracks appeared.
The 27-year-old flourished in his early roaming role, but immediately suffered when Van Gaal went in favour of rigidity. Ashley Young was handed a role on the left-wing while Marouane Fellaini became the false No9 no one had wanted. Di Maria immediately sensed his talents were undervalued and his form duly fell away.
When Di Maria failed to show at the pre-season tour in America, Van Gaal did his best to deflect attention away from the situation. He didn't know where he was and didn't seem to care. But the the more pressing question was not where he was but why he was not where he was supposed to be, to which the answer seems to be growingly clear.
Is it Louis van Gaal's fault for Angel di Maria's failure? Give us YOUR thoughts in the comment box below!
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