Manchester United are linked with a move to sign Real Madrid attacker Angel Di Maria but could the Argentina international finally be the player to genuinely replace Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford?
The 26-year-old Argentine won the Champions League title this season alongside his teammate in the Spanish capital, former Manchester United favourite Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo spent six years at the Theatre of Dreams under Sir Alex Ferguson and went on to become the a world record signing for Real Madrid in 2009 with an £80 million move to the Spanish capital where he was named the best player in the world via his Ballon d’Or win this year.
The tricky attacking midfielder can play anywhere across the attacking midfield, wide and forward lines and has scored 177 goals in 165 appearances for the Los Blancos.
Di Maria is a very different talent to Ronaldo – the Argentina winger is the more understated and more creative in terms of his proving of goals to his teammates but could he be the kind of signing to finally replace Ronaldo?
Since the Portuguese star left England, United have deployed the likes of his compatriot Nani, Ashley Young, and Antonio Valencia in his former position but none of the intended replacements have come anywhere to close to replacing the hero that was the No.7.
On top of that, few players in the team have been capable of combining as effectively with No.10 Wayne Rooney who undoubtedly had a strong and fruitful understanding with Ronaldo during those six years together.
Angel Di Maria could be just the type of attacking player to find Rooney, and striker Robin van Persie, in the kind of areas they love to operate in and around the box and with Rooney deployed in a deeper role of late, in between the midfield and the strike ahead of him, Di Maria employed on the flank out wide on either side could create space in-field for United’s most influential player.
There is no question that DI Maria is nowhere near the level technically or physically that his colleague at the Bernabeu is but in terms of what he can bring to the team at United potentially could arguably replace what the Red Devils have been missing since 2009.
The pace and dynamism he can offer, the intelligence in his movement and the space he creates for others around him could have a dangerous impact on defences in the Premier League.
That is something that cannot be said of Nani who had originally been intended as a direct like-for-like replacement for Ronaldo, nor can it be said of Young or even Valencia despite his electric pace.
What Louis van Gaal could have in Di Maria is a player who can drive at the opposition and penetrate defences, draw defenders out of position, stretch them and create space for United’s other threats up front and in that capacity he could be as influential as CR7 had been at Old Trafford in his day.