The Argentina international arrives as a European champion from Real Madrid on a £200,000-a-week wage for Manchester United in a £59.7 million deal. His arrival takes the Red Devils’ spending up to £111.7 million this summer following Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo to Old Trafford.
Manchester City have been uncharacteristically conservative this summer but the Premier League champions still managed to improve their squad with £51.5 million worth of signings in Fernando, Willy Caballero, Bruno Zuculini, Bacary Sagna and Eliaquim Mangala to add to an already title-winning squad. The Citizens moved on Jack Rodwell, Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and Costal Pantilimon but have lost no key players this term and are unlikely to see Manchester United as a threat to their challenge to retain the title this term.
Conversely, the Reds have made sweeping changes this summer under Brendan Rodgers and will have a lot of work to do in training to compensate for the loss of Luis Suarez. The signing of Mario Balotelli will undoubtedly help but it remains to be seen whether the Italy has the maturity and discipline to show the best of his talent consistently at the highest level.
Suarez was the only key loss for the Merseyside giants but Rodgers has brought in no less than eight new additions in a Tottenham-like fashion this summer for a combined £117 million so far. It will be the biggest test of his career to date to a) manage the unmanageable man in Balotelli and b) integrate successfully eight new players into his philosophy and system as well as, let’s not forget, c) facing his debut in the Champions League as a coach.
For that reason, I do think Liverpool could be in danger of losing their place in the top four – I don’t think they’re the most likely to fall out but I imagine it’s going to be a turbulent season, all things considered.
The Blues will be City’s main challengers for the title this term and make no mistake. Jose Mourinho had one of the least successful campaigns of his entire career last term and you can see from his early business in the transfer window that he intends to put that right this term.
He’s ironed out the creases and sold off all the players he didn’t quite trust, brought back Didier Drogba and, more importantly, replaced Frank Lampard with Cesc Fabregas. Diego Costa will be the striker the Blues have been missing since their Ivorian legend left and I can’t see Chelsea missing out on the top four.
The Gunners have made strong strides this summer in the market, bringing in Alexis Sanchez for £32 million as well as an astute signing of youngster Calum Chambers, like-for-like fullback signing Mathieu Debuchy to replace Sagna and Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina to keep Wojciech Szczesny on his toes.
However, the sale of Thomas Vermaelen leaves Arsenal short a defender and injury to Olivier Giroud means they could well be relying on a striker who has never scored for them up front until New Year.
I would anticipate it’ll be between the three teams in red for the third and fourth spot this season as I can’t see either of the blue sides falling out of the top four.
It’s important to note that, while United have signed a world class player in Di Maria, they still have a long way to go before they have the kind of quality on the books throughout the team and squads at their rivals.
I don’t think Di Maria’s signing necessarily changes the landscape of the top four this term but another world-class addition in January could make United a serious threat to Arsenal and or Liverpool, especially under Louis van Gaal.