By Matt Allen
There are few players that move to the Premier League that are genuinely considered in the top six or seven players in world football when British clubs signs them. The EPL is seen as the place where you make your name before the big transfer to one of Europe’s elite. Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale et al are just some that have established themselves, with the possible exception of Sergio Aguero.
For various reasons, be it the weather, food, homesickness or the lure of that gleaming white Real Madrid shirt, foreign climates are more appealing and that is just the way of the world. The Barcelona’s, Juventus’ and PSG’s are going to carry a lot of weight when bargaining for a player’s signature.
Still, when Manchester United shelled out a British record transfer fee for a player awarded Man of the Match in the previous season’s Champions League final, a player who dazzled and danced round defenders in La Liga and a player who was seen fit to wear the iconic number 7 shirt, there were big expectations.
So why did Di Maria fail to settle?
Some believe it is because he was already settled at Madrid, and if it wasn’t for FFP, he would have preferred Paris to Manchester. Not soon after his arrival his home was broken into, a quite harrowing experience. The climate and food are a big departure for a South American player, all reasons to consider your future; his family’s wellbeing should be first in his thoughts.
However, the way he has dealt with the separation from Louis van Gaal’s team is quite embarrassing. Using Marcos Rojo’s passport complication to simply go AWOL instead of reporting to United’s training camp in the US is a step too far. If his desire to leave is that great surely his presence in the States would have eased this. If he wants to go to an inferior league, to play for a lesser club and to have a high level of ridicule aimed at him from various angles then so be it, but this cowardly trick to play on United, who pay him more than handsomely for his mediocre services last season is disgusting.
It ranks in the same category of Fabian Delph, whose open rejection of the lure of Manchester City citing his love for Aston Villa and his level of pride to hold the clubs captaincy was only eclipsed by his dramatic U-turn only a few days later in the realms of mystification. Louis van Gaal is well within his rights to continue the process of fining him for his dissent. 360,000 reasons why van Gaal is justified, as that is just two weeks wages for the Argentine.
David De Gea wants to leave Manchester United. This is no secret, and even though there has been no public handing in of a transfer request or pleas of “Come and get me” to his suitors in Madrid. But in the game he played against Barcelona he showed he is still going about his business with a level of decency that he knows the club who has supported him through a difficult start to his tenure deserve. Watching his performance against Barca, you’d never know he was planning a life away from Old Trafford. Di Maria could do a hell of a lot worse than watching how to behave in these scenarios.
In reality he has become a joke, take the example of Ashley Young. A player who no one considered to be even close to the bench at United last year, however, through hard work and a bit of luck he has forced himself into the first team and made himself hard to drop for LVG. Wayne Rooney voted for him as his player of the season and it’s not hard to see why. If Di Maria had half of that, he could become a legend at Old Trafford and rise to a stature that his number has become very used to. All in all it is a shame that it seems we won’t see the best of Di Maria and his very brief cameo in England will be forever remembered as an unfulfilled potential and a wonder goal at Leicester (in which United lost).