Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Angel Di Maria has opened up about his disappointing year at Manchester United, insisting that it’s a spell of his career he tries not to think about.
The Red Devils landed the Argentina international from Real Madrid last summer for a British-record transfer fee. But after a scintillating start to life at Old Trafford, Di Maria fell out of favour under manager Louis van Gaal and was eventually moved on to the French champions ahead of the current campaign.
“Manchester was a sad experience,” Di Maria conceded to L’Equipe (h/t Alex Wood of the Daily Star). "Things did not go the way I expected, I was disappointed and I could not surface. Honestly, I don't remember what happened, and I don't want to remember.”
Indeed, with the Parisian giants, the 27-year-old seems a lot more settled. Here are some of his best moments from what has been an outstanding campaign:
Since joining, Di Maria has taken PSG to a new level. His thrust from wide and central areas has had defences up and down Ligue 1 on edge, as has his quality in possession. The Argentina man is part of a side that’s built up a staggering 24-point lead after 24 games ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Marseille.
As we can see here courtesy of the PSG Twitter feed, after a month of mesmerising football in the French capital, Di Maria recently picked up the Player of the Month award for January:
PSG English @PSG_English
Angel Di Maria receives his UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Month award https://t.co/9S74doPq1v https://t.co/em5Kyh4i4a2016-2-5 02:18:04
It’s left United fans wondering what might have been had they kept hold of Di Maria for another season instead of cutting their losses.
In the early weeks of his tenure at Old Trafford, Di Maria excelled as a central midfielder before injury issues left him sidelined. Then, upon his return, Van Gaal sought to use him as a centre-forward in spells and deployed him in various other roles afterwards. Needless to say, he never quite found his rhythm again and was regularly on the bench late last term.
Bleacher Report’s Rob Blanchette feels as though the club could have definitely utilised the midfielder’s talent a lot better:
Rob B. @_Rob_B
@philgatt if Di Maria had been utilised correctly, he wouldn’t have left, and MUFC wouldn’t had to have sold at a £20m loss.2016-1-28 10:25:57
Things didn’t go particularly well for the former Real Madrid man off the field, either. As reported by James Andrew of the MailOnline, Di Maria had his house burgled in early 2015, leaving his wife “too scared to return home.”
Nevertheless, Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News doesn’t feel as though that excuses the poor performances he put in:
Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst
A year ago to the day since thieves tried to break in to Di Maria's house, stealing only his talent.2016-1-31 12:15:09
Whether Di Maria had the stomach to fight for his place or not remains up for discussion, but his poor season at United looks increasingly likely to be an anomaly in what’s been a distinguished career. This campaign, it’s not a question of whether PSG, inspired by the midfielder, will win major honours, but rather how many.
The glimpses Old Trafford got of Di Maria were sensational in the early weeks of the 2014-15 season, and even the player’s biggest critics will have had pangs of regret when watching some of his stunning moments in France this season. United, who have been largely passive in their attacking play for much of this campaign, could have certainly done with his mercurial talent.