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What Could Have Been for Angel Di Maria at Manchester United

29/07/2015 23:21 BST | Updated 29/07/2016 10:59 BST

That glorious lob at Leicester had us purring with excitement. It was the rubber stamp, the justification Manchester United needed after shelling out a British record £59.7million transfer fee on Angel Di Maria in 2014.

Or at least that's what we thought.

That goal came in the midst of a lightning start to Old Trafford life for the former Real Madrid superstar. Sandwiched between a goal at home to Queens Park Rangers and a beautiful curling effort against Everton in October, you'd have been forgiven for thinking United had found a gem. An uber-expensive one, but a gem nonetheless.

But who'd have forecast what came next. Unsettled, shaken, bereft of confidence and dropped, the man of the match in the 2014 Champions League final now finds himself bestowed with another title. He'll likely be known as the 'most expensive flop' in English football.

Perhaps that's a harsh way of looking at it, but it's certainly how cynics will see it. Di Maria made scant few positive contributions to the Premier League in his debut season and while there's many out there who harbour confidence that he can prove himself if he gets another shot, all signs point to the fact that it's a chance he won't get.

There's an air of inevitability about recent speculation. Paris Saint Germain manager Laurent Blanc seems to think a deal is close to finally take the player to France, one year after United beat the French champions to the punch.

Financial Fair Play restrictions played their part in PSG withdrawing themselves from the chase last year, but those shackles have since been lifted. The Ligue 1 champions are keen on doing business again and once they stop dallying around with derisory £29m offers, the suggestion is that there's a will on the part of both United and the player himself to see a deal move to completion.

United are guaranteed to take a hit on the fee they paid for Di Maria. His season simply wasn't good enough to justify a similar valuation - let alone a profit - but it's something of a surprise as to why United are so openly willing to let the player move on.

Louis van Gaal himself - just this week - expressed how United need world-class players who can compete with the likes of Neymar at Barcelona. And how Ashley Young was simply not at the Brazilian's level.

The Dutchman is aspiring to sign world-class players (which Di Maria was prior to arriving at United), yet he went against his own example last season by repeatedly selecting Young in his place - overlooking a man who himself has proven to be able to mix it with Barcelona on the regular.

Granted, Young had one of the best seasons of his career last season - with the 27-year-old's campaign seeming a polar opposite - but spending the better part of £60m on a player just to sit him on the bench seems odd. Though of course, we don't see everything that goes on in behind the scenes.

If things go as expected, United will take a hefty loss on Di Maria as he finally gets his France move, while they'll bring in Barcelona winger Pedro (for around £22m) in his place - a man who is a clear back up to Neymar and the other two of the formidable front three Barcelona possess.

That's not to take anything away from Pedro - he's won it all in the game - and he's likely going to be far more dependable and consistent than Di Maria proved in his solitary season in Manchester. That's what Pedro is; consistent. And all the while, United will manage to make some money back in the process.

There's some inconsistencies in Van Gaal's thinking, but the important thing to remember for Manchester United fans is to trust in the manager. Undoubtedly he's got the best interests of the club in mind and he will do what he sees fit.

But that doesn't stop the mind wondering about what might have been. Another player with bonafide quality appears to have failed in the Premier League, and - barring an unexpected turn of events - we're not going to witness Angel Di Maria getting his chance for redemption in England.

It's a undoubted shame, but not everything goes to plan in football.

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