Angel Di Maria: Player Profile

The Red Devils have their Angel

Personal information
Full name: Angel Fabian Di Maria Hernandez
Date of birth: (1988-02-14) 14 February 1988
Age: 26
Place of birth: Rosario, Argentina
Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position: Winger / Attacking midfielder
Club information 
Current team: Manchester United
Number: 7

Youth career 
1995–2005: Rosario Central

Senior career
2005–2007: Rosario Central 39 Appearances, 6 goals
2007–2010: Benfica 123 Appearances, 15 goals
2010–2014: Real Madrid 191 Appearances, 36 goals
2014– Manchester United 1 Appearance, 0 goals

National team
2007: Argentina U20 13 Appearances, 3 goals
2008: Argentina U23 6 Appearances, 2 goals
2008– Argentina 52 Appearances, 10 goals

After a poor start to the new season, Di Maria – at £59.7 million the most expensive signing in Premier League history – has been designated the man to finally take United forward. Fittingly, forward momentum is exactly what Di Maria offers as a player.

On his debut against Burnley, there were nascent signs that Di Maria will provide his new club with similar impetus, once this fractured United team finally finds some kind of form and shape. At every opportunity, Di Maria was looking to use that wonderful left foot of his to move play forward decisively and quickly.

Whereas Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick’s prominence as practitioners of the sideways pass slowed United down in recent seasons, Di Maria should give them extra velocity. He has the courage to look for the forward pass; the trickier ball.

Right from the outset against Burnley – from his very first touch – he wanted to drive his team onward, whether dribbling through the centre or pinging direct balls over the top, one of which picked out Van Persie for United's best chance of an otherwise recognisably insipid display.

These skills have been honed at all of his clubs – Rosario Central, Benfica and Real Madrid – and he arrives in England as that rarest of things for a Premier League signing: a fully evolved, world-class player approaching the very peak of his talents.

One of the top players in world football, Angel Di Maria has proved himself at the very highest echelons of the game. The Argentinian won the 2014 Champions League with Real Madrid and was named Man of the Match after the final triumph over local rivals Atletico, making him hugely popular with the Bernabeu faithful.

By increasing his influence in Carlo Ancelotti's side, despite Gareth Bale joining Cristiano Ronaldo at the club last summer, he showed versatility, tenacity and strength of character. Nobody supplied more assists than the wiry South American in 2013/14 season and his incisive dribbling and passing is an exciting feature of his play.

His goalscoring also helped Argentina beat Switzerland in the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup, though injury would unfortunately rule him out of the latter stages of the competition, including the final defeat to Germany.

Before all of this, the left-footed star made his professional debut for Rosario Central in his homeland at the tender age of 17 but spent only two seasons with his first club before earning a move to Europe and Benfica.

Becoming the fourth signing of the summer for Manchester United, Angel Di Maria signed a five-year deal for the English club. While few would dare deny his talent, his transfer fee of £59.7 million—a British record—has raised some questions.  Di Maria is an immensely talented player, and he was pivotal in Real Madrid's La Liga and Champions League efforts last season.

Throughout 45 appearances in both competitions, he totalled seven goals and a staggering 22 assists, serving a talismanic role for Los Blancos. To put that last number into context, it was seven more assists than Wayne Rooney managed to accrue and more than any other player in Europe's Top 5 leagues.

Though he certainly benefited from playing for a star-studded team, few can claim to be a better playmaker than Di Maria. His accurate crosses—2.1 per game—and penetrating runs down the left flank were something United could've used in their side, as they often struggled to find pace and directness.

His defensive contribution was respectable as well, averaging 1.3 tackles per game in league play. The Argentine had an otherworldly season, cementing world-class status and raising his transfer value exponentially.

Di Maria’s signing alone is not enough to cover up United’s many failings, which were in evidence again in another unimpressive performance against Burnley. But Di Maria has at least given United something they have been lacking for years: a sense of progress and forward momentum in that central midfield area.