Will he or won't he? The transfer speculation surrounding Angel Di Maria keeps on growing the deeper we get into the 2014 summer transfer window, and the ongoing saga surrounding the Argentine star can only hurt Real Madrid in the long run.
Former Spanish international Gaizka Mendieta was the latest to call out Los Blancos for their treatment of the winger, as reported by Goal (h/t to BeIN Sports):
Di Maria is an example of someone who has overcome obstacles. Real Madrid did not take him into account but he has demonstrated he can play in different positions and on the right, left and centre. Along with [Cristiano] Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, he was Real Madrid's most important player.
Mendieta isn't wrong in his assessment, and to his credit, he was far less critical of the club than others before him.
Di Maria had an excellent 2013-14 campaign, and he was instrumental in the club's return to the very top of European football. While teammates were struggling with health and form late in the season, the Argentine often made the difference in matches with his marauding runs down the flank.
His reward? Real started openly flirting with James Rodriguez as soon as the Colombian wunderkind scored his first goal in the 2014 World Cup.
Now, no one can blame Los Blancos for bringing in a mercurial talent like Rodriguez. The winger/midfielder just has too much potential to pass up, and he could be one of the absolute stars of this club for years to come.
But the manner in which the entire saga went down, coupled with the transfer for Toni Kroos, equaled to a giant slap in the face for Di Maria. After putting everything on the line for the club and winning them the Champions League, he had to watch how Real spent millions on two players who will effectively take his spot on the pitch.
The rumour mill hasn't stopped spinning ever since, and now it appears Di Maria's time in the Spanish capital may be over, as AS reports the winger will be joining Paris Saint-Germain (h/t to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Johnson):
AS: Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria will complete his move to PSG & be unveiled by the club in Paris by next Monday at the latest.— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) July 30, 2014
AS: PSG will pay €75m with an extra €5m in bonuses for Angel Di Maria. Deal will be financed by sales of Ezequiel Lavezzi & Edinson Cavani.— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) July 30, 2014
This goes directly against what the paper was reporting just a few days ago, when Carlo Ancelotti made it clear he had no intention of selling the World Cup finalist:
Today's AS front page – Ancelotti not giving in to demands of player and club: "Di María has to be back on 5 August" pic.twitter.com/SSvJPpWe7e— AS English (@English_AS) July 28, 2014
Ancelotti's desire to keep the versatile attacking threat in Madrid is understandable, but with the player angling for a move and club officials looking to recuperate some of the funds used to purchase Kroos and Rodriguez, a move appears imminent.
So, end of story? Not quite. This ugly divorce will have an effect on Real moving forward. The summer of 2014 was supposed to be one of glory and joy in Madrid, and for the most part, it was. The arrival of Kroos and especially Rodriguez was met with all kinds of fanfare, and rightfully so.
But Di Maria's departure will leave a bitter aftertaste, and not just because Los Blancos will miss his contributions on the pitch.
In a move not too dissimilar to the ones that eventually made the Galacticos era a failure, the club refused to acknowledge and respect a vital contributor, opting to replace him with a shiny new toy.
PR-wise, that's a nightmare. Fans have been begging for Real to find a way to fix things with Di Maria all summer, but with every passing day, the situation got worse. And the rest of the team's slightly less-heralded stars were forced to experience every single detail of it, both in the press and on social media.
Should Real have done more to keep Di Maria happy?
Players like Isco, Jese and Asier Illarramendi are supremely talented youngsters hoping to play themselves into bigger roles at the club, but if even the great Di Maria's position isn't safe, what guarantees do they have Real won't just replace them?
That's not to say Los Blancos are planning on selling any one of those three. The Di Maria situation just won't instill any confidence in the club's policy to develop its own players.
Players like to know their hard work is appreciated, and Los Blancos had a chance to show they do in the summer of 2014. They didn't, and that's not a good look for any team. Real will now have to hope it doesn't affect some of their other players, or they could live to regret how they handled the entire situation.