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Why Real Madrid Need to Hold onto Angel Di Maria at All Costs

VALENCIA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 22:  Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Mestalla on December 22, 2013 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2013

There’s always one, and this year it looks like Angel di Maria could be that man.

That man who, despite what he, his manager or his club say, is constantly linked with a January move to another team, league or continent.

In a World Cup year, this sort of talk supposedly carries more substance. Players like Di Maria, we are told, need to leave if they are to ensure their spots in Brazil next summer—although are Argentina really about to drop the 25-year-old?

Talk about Di Maria’s future throughout December has been relentless.

Chelsea plan to sign him as part of a swap deal involving Eden Hazard, according to the Daily Star, while The Mirror suggested that Manchester United were eying Di Maria to resurrect their faltering title defense.

Marca reported that the Argentine was kicking up a fuss about having to stay at Madrid, and The Express said he was the next Jorge Mendes client who would sign for Ligue 1 side Monaco.

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 18:  Angel di Maria of Real Madrid celebrates with  Jose Ignacio 'Nacho' (L), Asier Illarramendi  alias 'Illara' and Alvaro Morata after scoring Real's 2nd goal during the Copa del Rey, Round of 32 2nd leg match between Real Madri
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Amid all this, of course, have come the denials.

Carlo Ancelotti said in a press conference, per Goal.com, that Di Maria “will not leave Real Madrid,” with the player himself towing the same line, via the Daily Star:

“I am happy at Madrid, my head is in Madrid and I have never asked for a contract renewal.”

Even president Florentino Perez—the man often thought to carry an agenda in cases like this—has poured cold water on the suggestion that the club have received bids for Di Maria, via Sky Sports.

It all creates a distorted picture of the Madrid wide man's future, leaving only few who actually know what January may bring. However, the advice for Ancelotti and Los Blancos is clearer: Don’t let Di Maria leave.

Perhaps he isn’t part of his manager’s favourite XI, having fallen behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in the pecking order, but it is fair to assume he is probably the club's 12th man in cricket terms.

In 105 games for Madrid in La Liga, he has contributed to 68 goals—scoring 20 and creating 48—and despite the talk of him not being first choice, he’s also had his fair share of games wearing the white shirt this season.

And more often than not, he’s continued to produce the goods when given a chance.

Fifteen starts have bore five goals and eight assists, totaling a direct involvement in 13 goals this season—nearly one for each appearance.

In Madrid’s most recent win against Valencia, which kept them from slipping further away from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Di Maria was the talisman. He scored a wonderful first and his brilliant free-kick created the second.

There have been similar performances too—in the Champions League against Galatasaray (twice) and Copenhagen and in the league against Malaga, Getafe and Levante.

When Di Maria plays, Ancelotti knows that he has an attacking threat. On the left or the right, or through the middle as he’s done this season for club and country, he carries that rare ability to create something from nothing.

Bale and Ronaldo may be ahead of him in Ancelotti’s thoughts, but in modern football, where big squads are a necessity, Madrid would be foolish to let Di Maria slip through their fingers.

Stats taken from Transfermarkt and WhoScored.

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