Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was put in a difficult spot in his pre-match press conference as journalists ask him on the differences between James Rodriguez and new Manchester United signing Angel Di Mira.
The two players dominated the Spanish headlines this summer following their big money moves yet one can’t help but feel Rodriguez hasn’t shown the high standards set by Di Maria last season.
When asked to compare the two, Ancelotti felt that his Colombian star has a distinct quality to United’s new signing and feels that he his role in the team differs somewhat.
“James isn’t Di Maria, he has a distinct quality. I can’t ask of him what I asked of Di Maria, they are two different players. He is doing a great job, and he is going to improve. It’s not good to ask him what I asked of Di Maria, and neither is it good to ask Di Maria to accomplish what James does.” He said, quoted by the Spanish publication AS.
Argentine international Di Maria came on leaps and bounds for Los Blancos towards the end of last season, proving to be arguably the club’s most important player in their build up to the Champions League victory.
Playing alongside Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric in a midfield three, his direct running and fast-paced dribbling caused havoc and allowed Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale the space to flourish.
His happiness at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, was questioned repeatedly over the summer after rumours spread of his discontent at not being appreciated for the work he had done.
After a drawn-out transfer saga involving United, Di Maria made the move to the Red Devils in a club record £59.7 million deal which sent headways across the footballing world.
The deal which took the 26-year-old to Old Trafford took place after Real Madrid made a very expensive summer acquisition of their own – James Rodriguez to the tune of €80 million.
The Colombian international was a hit at the World Cup in Brazil, showing fabulous ability on the counter attack and netting an unprecedented six goals.
His start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, has often been described as underwhelming and there is a sense around the Spanish capital that the loss of Angel Di Maria has yet to be fully replaced.