Angel di Maria was one of Real Madrid’s best players last season and was key in their 10th Champions League triumph, but he was still sold to Manchester United in the summer transfer window.
It cost the Red Devils £59.7 million as transfer fee to sign the Argentina international winger after French champions Paris Saint-Germain bowed out of the race to secure his signature because of financial issues.
The future of Di Maria had been cast into doubt months earlier, even before the 2014 World Cup in fact – a tournament in which he was a star player in Argentina’s march to the final.
It must have come as a surprise to many as to why Madrid were so willing to sell a player who was monumental for them over the past four years, but to Christoph Metzelder there is an easy answer.
‘Real Madrid are a global brand and it's about building your brand as much as it is about football’, the 33-year-old told Kicker. ‘Angel Di Maria did not do enough for Madrid's brand.
‘But if you'd asked his teammates, they would probably all have said that Madrid should have held on to him. It was the same for Mesut Ozil last year’.
Metzelder would know. The former Germany international defender was on books of Madrid between 2007 and 2010, but he was limited to just 23 La Liga appearances due to injury problems.
Di Maria’s exit was largely to compensate for the money that Madrid had splashed out on World Cup winner Toni Kroos and the tournament's Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez.
Economically, Madrid made a great business by selling Di Maria. After all, getting almost £60m for a player who you have publicly put up for sale is unprecedented - the price should fall in such cases.
Whether Di Maria’s departure is going to affect Madrid on the pitch remains to be seen. Last summer Los Blancos sold star playmaker Mesut Ozil to Arsenal for £42.5m, but it did not prevent them from winning their first Champions League title since 2002.