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Is Di Maria The Answer To United’s Problems?

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Manchester United today confirmed the British transfer record signing of Angel DiMaria for a whopping €75m (£59.7m), eclipsing January’s record buy, Juan Mata, who cost a cool €46m (£37.1m). The fast, intelligent and versatile Argentinian is most naturally suited to the left wing, but has proven his adaptability at former club Real Madrid by playing across the the midfield and attacking line.

He is in the special group of players, considered alike to Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi and ex-United mega-star Cristiano Ronaldo. He is definitely the class of player Louis Van Gaal so desperately needs, and despite possibly paying a little too much for his services it announces Manchester United’s intentions under the enigmatic Dutchman. He is not however a player that will single handedly guide Manchester United into a new era of success, he is a piece in much larger puzzle, an integral piece to be sure; but united still need further strengthening.

DiMaria’s place in the side is still to be determined, and as it stands it would appear he will be needed in several roles over the course of the season. Van Gaal identified him as one of the best wingers in the game, indicating that he sees him as a wide man. Ashley Young is most at risk with Di Maria coming in, the Englishman has been much criticised by United fans for lacklustre performances for the last two seasons. The ex-Villain must surely know his days are numbered even if he survives this transfer window, he has consistently proved that he just is not of the calibre Manchester United demands. The new system of using wing backs at United would suit Di Maria far more than Young, as the big money signing is far more intelligent a footballer. 

If Louis Van Gaal sticks to his wing-back system that could leave Young out in the cold entirely, as €35m summer addition Luke Shaw is a far more desirable stand in for the Argentinian. Hoards of Manchester United fans will be delighted to see the back of Young, and with good reason after such an abysmal campaign as last year; every player is under scrutiny.The addition of DiMaria immediately causes a problem for the new manager, as DiMaria’s best position is the left wing, a position not in the Dutchman’s “philosophy”.

The whole point of playing the wing back system was to ensure new captain Wayne Rooney, previous record buy Mata and injury riddled star man Robin Van Persie were all played in their favoured position. It would be understandable if he now chose to get the best out of his new player to revitalise a squad that somehow looks even worse than they did last season; especially after last night’s humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of lowly MK Dons.  It is already clear the 5-3-2 is not working, and as head strong as Van Gaal is, DiMaria is the perfect excuse to change the tactics without losing face. 

One potential formation to accommodate most of the summer signings and keep all the big names in their rightful positions would be the diamond. In theory Van Gaal already has every thing he needs to build a top 4 side, but like his predecessor has yet to find a way to make this United side a team to fear. The defence is weak at best, but has had over €50m spent on it with, as yet unseen, new arrivals Shaw and Marco Rojo. With a back four of Rafael (injured), Chris Smalling, Rojo (awaiting work permit) and Shaw (injured) when fit; could mould into a solid defensive line with attacking fullbacks to get forward.

The defensive midfield position could prove to be a problem, with no real class in the centre of midfield for United in nearly a decade. Phil Jones could potentially be shaped into the position, he has played in midfield on occasion and showed potential. Another option would be to help veteran Michael Carrick adapt to it, but he is on the infinite injury list at Old Trafford at present. 

Rumours have been ripe all summer that United have been scouring the globe for the right midfielder, Arturo Vidal, Nigel De Jong, Daley Blind and Bastian Schweinsteiger have all been named as potential signings. All would be capable of playing just in front of the back four and dictate the tempo of big games. After spending over €150m already, it is highly likely United will look to bring in at least one more player before the window slams shut in September.

Louis Van Gaal has some tough choices to make, all the while being under the scrutiny of a frustrated Manchester United fan-base. The excitement and ecstasy of a world class manager has already faded after a terrible start to the season, and he is already being compared to sacrificial lamb, David Moyes. He must find a way to get Di Maria in and straight to his best to help stop this humiliating start from getting any worse. 

Image courtesy of BBC

 

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