With Angel Di Maria’s move to French giants Paris Saint Germain close to completion, the iconic number 7 jersey at Old Trafford will become vacant once again. After being given extended leave due to the rigours of the Copa America, Di Maria has decided to replicate Raheem Sterling’s AWOL antics in a bid to push through a move to the French capital and not report for pre-season duty. Di Maria’s failure to arrive to America will reportedly come as a cost as United are looking to fine the Argentine two weeks’ worth of wages, his lack of professionalism has forced United’s hand and would of only speeded up negotiations.
However, Manchester United fans will no doubt be feeling a sense of what if, the club record signing of Di Maria last summer captivated the imaginations of the Old Trafford faithful. Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid, the illustrious number 7 shirt has lacked a worthy owner. In the opening stages of his Manchester United career, Di Maria was in scintillating form, his exquisite lob against Leicester City being an early highlight of the talent he possesses. Di Maria was influential and the hefty price tag paid to secure his services from Real Madrid was being justified. Nevertheless, Di Maria’s form started to dwindle and the honeymoon period of adapting to the Premier League was over. The former Real Madrid man’s attitude and desire looked lacklustre and his commitment to the United cause was called into question after an extended run of poor performances and niggling injury setbacks.
The renaissance of Ashley Young frustrated the Argentine further and with Van Gaal seemingly unimpressed with the former Real Madrid’s man adaptation to his philosophy, Di Maria had to endure a series of cameo appearances from the substitute’s bench. Di Maria has arguably never looked settled in Manchester and after the attempted break in at his home it seems that he doesn’t have the stomach to overcome a troublesome start to life in England. If it wasn’t for the Financial Fair Play restrictions that hindered PSG’s spending last summer, Di Maria would have most probably secured a move to the French giants.
It will be interesting to see whether a move to the glamorous Paris will galvanise Di Maria, because after playing for the biggest clubs in the world in Real Madrid and Manchester United, Di Maria’s career has taken a dramatic downward trajectory. He may at some stage regret his antics and look back on his brief Manchester United venture as an opportunity not taken. After a successful summer of recruiting for Manchester United, the impending departure of their £59.7m man and the ever growing saga surrounding their prized asset David De Gea, United fans will want immediate resolutions to ensure that this transfer window isn’t labelled as a failure.
Memphis Depay has revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo is a player he has huge admiration for, Van Gaal his Dutch mentor may provide Depay with the perfect opportunity to replicate the great Portuguese’s feats by potentially handing him the legendary number 7 shirt. Louis Van Gaal has revealed that United need an injection of speed, goals and creativity to their squad in a bid to return amongst the elite once again. United will surely look to replace Di Maria with a marquee signing, here are some superstars that could possibly replace the Argentine and yield the famous number 7 shirt:
After making a big money £30m euro move from Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid, Griezmann has truly flourished under Diego Simeone’s stewardship. The Frenchman has become an integral part of Simeone’s side and after a debut season goal tally of 25, Griezmann has been linked with big money switches to the likes of Chelsea and Bayern Munich this summer. At the age of 24, Griezmann is blessed with blistering pace and mazy dribbling skills, such attributes have seen him become one of the most sought after talents in Europe. Atletico will not entertain any bids for their prized asset but such is the financial muscle of Manchester United, Atletico’s hand may be forced.
Many felt that the departure of influential manager Jürgen Klopp and the loss of Champions League football would coincide with Dortmund’s star man Marco Reus embarking on a new challenge. Reus has however reaffirmed his commitment to Thomas Tuchel and ensured that he is desperate to get the German giants back to the summit of German football. Reus has been plagued with ankle injuries in the last year, one of which consequently ruled Reus out Germany’s World Cup triumph in Brazil. After recently signing a new contract which eliminated his previous release clause, it would have to be an audacious bid to prize Reus away from his beloved Dortmund this summer. Van Gaal will be well aware of Reus’s recent injury problems and with the Premier League being the most unforgiving on the body, Van Gaal will no doubt steer away from Reus even though the young German is capable of producing fireworks.
After having to play second fiddle to the formidable trio of Neymar, Suarez and Messi, Pedro is reportedly keen to call time on his trophy filled Barcelona career. Pedro was instrumental in Pep Guardiola’s success but under Luis Enrique he has had to settle with a bit part role due to the level of competition in the attacking areas. At the age of 28, Pedro has won it all but it’s his selfless nature and willingness to do his defensive duties which will make him an appealing option to Louis Van Gaal. United are reportedly keen to secure the services of Pedro and with his pace, creativity and goals, United’s attacking options will be significantly bolstered with a man who was won it all and entering his peak.
The Gareth Bale to Manchester United stories just will not vanish. But after a fiery summer of negotiations between the two powerhouses involving the likes of David De Gea and Sergio Ramos, Florentino Perez would not entertain any bids for his record signing. Bale performances were met with a chorus of boos and whistles from the Madrid faithful last season, Van Gaal and Ed Woodward are reportedly willing to smash their club record fee to secure the former Tottenham man’s services. Bale may return to England at some stage but he is not willing to give up on his Spanish adventure just yet.
Many Manchester United fans have been harbouring on the hope that one day the Portuguese prodigal son could return to Old Trafford once again. The predictable summer rumours over a potential return to Manchester United have resurfaced after a rumoured bust up with new manager Rafael Benitez. At the age of 31, Ronaldo is still at the peak of his powers and on a personal note had another mesmerising season last year which produced his best ever goal return of 61 in all competitions. Ronaldo is currently less than a dozen goals behind Raul’s all-time record for Los Blancos, Ronaldo driven by awards and history will no doubt be eager to break another record and go down in Madrid folklore. Ronaldo will no doubt break Raul’s record next season and then will no doubt re-assess his future. A United return cannot be ruled out but with every passing year and Ronaldo’s desire to taste the American waters, the United faithful maybe clutching at straws. But in the words of Cristiano, “In the future we never know”.