Gary Neville picks his Manchester United XI - Angel di Maria included

Angel Di Maria Argentina

Former Old Trafford mainstay, Gary Neville, now an analyst, has offered his strongest Manchester United starting XI

The signing of Angel di Maria ushers in a new era at Manchester United that will eventually see the club return to the upper echelon of English football where they can challenge with the enriched quality of rosters one would find at local rivals Manchester City and also Chelsea.

That is the view of former Manchester United right back Gary Neville, who told the Monday Night Football studio last night that, while there are still a "number of pieces of the puzzle missing" such as a holding midfielder and an additional defender, the recruitment of di Maria looks to be an exciting transfer who will bring the very best out of another recent acquisition - former Blues midfielder Juan Mata.

"I think he'll improve Juan Mata," said Neville. "Mata relies upon people running past him, he shifts the ball from [flank to flank], he relies on the runs but because they [United] don't play with pace, it doesn't help [him]."

For United, Mata has returned seven goals from 15 shots in ten appearances, compared to no goals from five shots when deployed in a wide position, such as left wing [where he has played seven times]. Centrally, he has also created 21 goal-scoring chances, compared to 16 from the flank.

Clearly, Mata is better when he is positioned in the middle of the park, but he could combine well with di Maria as the Argentine is renowned for his speed of foot.

Neville selected a starting XI for the players currently at United, with the likely signing of di Maria also included.

"This team here, Mata is on the bench, but he can come in for [Wayne] Rooney or [Robin] Van Persie, it makes no difference," said Neville.

"Louis Van Gaal makes sure the sections of the pitch are all covered, there are five clear sections [in the above team]. It's a better team all round.

"You can put [Adnan] Januzaj in for [Ander] Herrera… United, historically, have 22 players in the squad, you look at City, Chelsea, look at the bench… you need all these players throughout the season.

"Rooney, Mata, van Persie, di Maria, they can play all over and they are filling the squad with higher level players.

"The signing of di Maria will hopefully start off the team being able to play with more confidence and more pace. Mata will definitely benefit from this."

United are also set to make a triple signing this week, with Arturo Vidal and Daley Blind reportedly ready to join di Maria at Old Trafford.

"Blind is left-sided centre back, or wing back, you need two players in every position. They need a robust centre midfielder and a centre back of stature. There are pieces of the puzzle still missing," concluded Neville.

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