Manchester United are undergoing a period of transition under new manager Louis van Gaal who had so far brought in young England fullback Luke Shaw and Spanish attacking midfielder Ander Herrera but it has been clear for the last 18 months at least, under both former managers David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson, that United need to add quality to their wide areas.
Nani and Ashley Young are expected to be offloaded this summer after underwhelming performances, marked by inconsistency and injury, over the last two seasons whilst the future of the more reliable Antonio Valencia is as yet unknown. Youngsters Adnan Januzaj and Wilfried Zaha will surely be considered for the future but what United really require is world-class ready-made quality on the flanks that could hark back to the days of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and, more recently, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid fits that criteria more than Juan Cuadrado, also 26, of Fiorentina who is the lesser known of the two talents. Di Maria would likely be the more expensive of the two with reports suggesting a figure around or above £50 million for the Argentina international.
Di Maria scored fewer goals last term, just four, for the European champions in La Liga to Cuadrado’s 11 for Fiorentina in Serie A but Di Maria added more assists, 17 in La Liga to Cuadrado’s five in Serie A.
Cuadrado achieved the slightly higher pass completion rate of 85.7% to Di Maria’s 82.1% for the Spanish giants and the Colombian averaged three shots per game to Di Maria’s 1.9 on average.
At the World Cup this summer, Di Maria averaged an impressive shooting accuracy of 75% with Cuadrado’s a lower 50%. It’s difficult to separate the performances of the two players but Di Maria would be the more worthy signing for the Red Devils given his superior proven experience at the highest level in the top competitions and his superior technical quality and efficiency with the ball at his feet and in front of goal.
He can create more chances for the forwards alongside him in the team – United have exceptionally talented strikers in Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney and Di Maria can feed them more capably than his Colombian counterpart.