Manchester United target 'outplayed Lionel Messi' - Says Argentine legend

Angel di Maria's quality cannot be underestimated, argues Argentine World Cup winning coach, as Manchester United circle.

Angel di Maria has been under appreciated at Real Madrid, argues 1978 Argentine World Cup winning manager César Luis Menotti.

He believes Madrid as a club, and their support, have not shown the faith in Di Maria he deserved, and claims his performances should see increased recognition.

Menotti wrote in a column for DPA Global Media Service, reported by AS: "I think he must have been the best player of the last months of in La Liga, beating even (Lionel) Messi."

Statistically, Menotti is not quite right.

Messi scored a phenomenal 20 goals in his 20 games of the season in La Liga, aided by a back-to-back hat-trick against Osasuna and Real Madrid. He added to this with seven assists.

He ended with three goals in his final six games however, including failing to net in the crucial game with Atletico, in which Barcelona could have won the title with a victory.

Di Maria, by nature not as prolific a goalscorer, had a record in finding the net which paled in comparison.

Over the past 20 games of the La Liga season, of which he missed two with injury, the Real Madrid man scored only two goals. He did however provide a phenomenal 14 assists, three coming in the final six games.

Which player ultimately performed better is a matter of perception. Messi contributed 27 goals in total, and Di Maria 16. In terms of the figures, the Barcelona man edges it.

Messi's problem is, scoring 20 in 20, is by his standard very unremarkable by now, which sounds ridiculous, but he has standards applied to only he and Cristiano Ronaldo.

His failure to score in the title decider against Atletico, coupled with similarly drab Champions League performances against the same opponent, meant ultimately it was an unsuccessful season.

For Di Maria, a meaningful and game-winning contribution against Atletico in the final, meant his season ended with a medal.

Manchester United have no chance of signing Messi, but they should be confident that if they can pull off a deal for Di Maria, they will be signing a tremendous player, even if he should score more goals.

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