The end of Di Maria

Angel di Maria never wanted to join Manchester United. His first choice last summer was Paris Saint Germain but the French club had their hands tied by financial fair play restrictions. United came along with an enormous sum and the result seemed to suit all parties. However, Di Maria had no intention of seeing out his contract.

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Whenever a player is transferred for a large sum, or often, I tend to look for the agent involved. Di Maria’s agent is Jorge Mendes, a man who is brilliant at capitalising on opportunities.

Last summer United were desperate for a pick-me-up after a dreadful season and a couple of chastening forays into the market for Ed Woodward. The signing of the best player from the Champions’ League Final was a statement of intent and a boon to morale across the board. So was the arrival of Radamel Falcao, another Mendes client.

Both players arrived on enormous wages and with great expectation surrounding them. By Christmas though, the two players who were supposed to put United back on track were dithering and frustrating.

A common argument is that South Americans don’t like the weather in Manchester and prefer to play in warmer climes. I would like to take issue with this argument in these cases.

Firstly, Di Maria has moved to Paris. I used to live in Manchester and at the moment I am living in Paris. I can tell you that you don’t come here for the weather and it is every bit as grim as Manchester during the winter months. United’s former number seven is about to pitch up at PSG and, if he has done it for the sunshine, he will be sorely disappointed.

Whilst I am not going to draw a series of direct comparisons between Manchester and Paris, I can say the following. Manchester is a football city, the game courses through the veins of that metropolis like almost no other subject. Paris, palpably, is not. That doesn’t matter to everyone, but Di Maria is a footballer and it should matter to him.

So why has he moved? It can only be out of financial interest. Any player, and of course agent, who is involved in 100 million pounds worth of transfers in 12 months is going to find themselves better off.

The talk about the attempted break-in at Di Maria’s house is troubling, but in South America players have family members kidnapped. He should be tougher than that. And there is plenty of crime to be found in the French capital, I can assure you.

In a statistical sense, United are losing their highest assist maker from last season. Di Maria set up 10 goals and there is no doubting his quality as a player when focussed. But he was never going to be fully focussed for us again.

That shortfall must be made up and Louis van Gaal will be hoping that Memphis Depay can do a lot of the work. Fans will be hoping that Adnan Januzaj steps up again. The youngster has been handed a golden opportunity by Di Maria’s departure, he must seize it with both hands.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne

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