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A Fallen Angel? What’s the Problem with Di Maria?

September 01, 2015

- Grant Whittington

Cast your mind back the Champions League final last May. Played out on a balmy and glorious night in Lisbon, Real Madrid completed the historic La Decima with a stunning 4-1, extra-time victory of neighbours Atletico. This sparked celebrations throughout the white half of Madrid, while the game also completed a brilliant year for the understated Argentinian midfielder Angel Di Maria. Though precociously talented, Di Maria often found himself in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale before his man-of-the-match performance in Lisbon.

The Rise and Fall of Di Maria

Since then, however, Di Maria has experienced mixed fortunes at best. Bombed out of Madrid (against the wishes of the fans) and sold to Manchester United for a British record fee of £59.7 million. After making an initial impact at Old Trafford (and scoring on his debut in front of his home fans), Di Maria has struggled for form and fitness and failed to achieve the heights expected of a world class performer. Now the subject of intense transfer speculation, Di Maria is alleged to be unhappy at United having being used from the bench in recent games.

So what exactly is the problem with Di Maria? To begin with, fans need to learn to allow for adapting to a new culture, as Di Maria has moved to a far less exotic location while also being forced to learn a brand new language. In addition to this, he has also suffered from significant personal issues, after his house was targeted by thieves while he was away with the club. Alongside recurring injury problems and a struggle to adapt to the physical dimensions of the EPL, Di Maria has faced a number of challenges that have gradually worn down his form, fitness and hunger.

What Next for Di Maria?

Contrast this with his time at Real, where Di Maria forged an important role on the heart of Madrid’s midfield. Loved by the fans and comfortable with his supporting role behind Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema, Di Maria thrived in a climatic environment that he was fully accustomed to. This is not yet the case in Manchester, and the Argentinian star has much to do if he is to become an integral part of the Old Trafford club.

With United in top form before the international break and set to welcome Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Saturday, now may be the ideal time for Di Maria to find his form and carve a niche for himself in an increasingly settled first eleven.

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