Angel di Maria's superb season for Real Madrid has seen clubs around Europe linked with battling for his signature.
Premier League side Arsenal are one of these, with it rumoured his price could escalate to £40 million and over. Spanish newspaper AS even reported this week that Di Maria has told Madrid he wants to move on.
So his performance for Argentina in the World Cup last 16 tie against Switzerland came at an inopportune time, looking particularly poor.
It led BBC Match of the Day host and former Tottenham striker Gary Lineker to describe his performances at the tournament as hopeless.
Is this Di Maria the same one as the fella at Real Madrid. He's been hopeless at this World Cup.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 1, 2014
Di Maria would of course go onto net a late extra time winner, proving that he possesses the class and temperament to deliver in pressure situations even on a day when absolutely nothing is going right for him.
The winger gave possession away a staggering 51 times in one game, and failed to complete a single cross. He failed in 36 per cent of his attempted dribbles, and completed only a slightly higher pass completion rate than his goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who delivered 62%.
|Team||Poss Lost All||Pass Accuracy %||Crossing Accuracy %||Dribbling Success %||Goals||Mins|
|Ángel Di María||Argentina||51||63.16||0.00||64.29||1||120|
The one statistic which matter however is the goals column, and Di Maria deserves credit for keeping his head when put through by Lionel Messi.
Manager Alejandro Sabella also should be praised for sticking with the Real Madrid maestro; by this point most coaches would have grown exasperated with his woeful performance and hauled him off to be substituted as punishment, or simply viewing an alternative as more helpful to the team.
Gary Lineker, critical of Di Maria's output barring the goal, reneged slightly on his 'hopeless' jibe after the game, and gave credit where it was due.
Di Maria gets his reward for unbelievable perseverance. He may have had a poor game but no one comes near him for energy.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 1, 2014
Di Maria will hope this is the moment his tournament turns around for the better, and he starts contributing to a level more on par with Messi, than simply messy.