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More goals, better dribbler: Could Madrid's Gareth Bale replace Di Maria at Old Trafford?

How does Gareth Bale compare to Manchester United's Angel Di Maria?

According to the Express, Manchester United are ready to sell record signing Angel Di Maria in the summer as they believe they can persuade Real Madrid star Gareth Bale to join the club.

It is believed that Di Maria and his family are unsettled after being the victims of an attempted break-in at their home earlier in the year, while his form on the pitch has been less than impressive. With the Argentine contemplating his future, United's attempts to bring in Gareth Bale have "gone into overdrive", according to the Express.

The Welshman regularly pronounces that he doesn't want to leave Real Madrid, the current champions of Europe, for a return to the Premier League, but the Old Trafford hierarchy feel they can persuade him to change his mind if they can agree a deal with the Spanish outfit. 

Although this switch seems very speculative, there's no harm in conducting a stats comparison, using the database provided by Opta. Both players are widely touted as being one of the word's best in their positions, and the empirical evidence makes for interesting reading. 

  PositionTeamGoalsShots/ AppShot Acc (%)Key Passes/ AppAssistsPass Acc (%)Dribble Succ (%)Apps
Ángel Di María MF Man Utd 3 2.8 29 2.25 8 78 37.74 20

Bale's goal scoring output has been far greater than Di Maria's. With 10 league goals in 23 appearances this term, compared to the three - in 20 matches - managed by the Argentine, few can argue against the Real Madrid man's superiority in this key attacking area. Not only has Bale fashioned more shots per appearance (3.48), he has also been the more accurate of the duo from his attempts (48%). 

Nevertheless, in a creative capacity, there is only one winner. Di Maria, renowned for his ability to dictate in the final third, has fashioned 1.85 key passes per match, while recording eight assists for the season. Bale, meanwhile, has crafted 1.17 chances per appearance for Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Co., while setting-up five goals. 

Bale's ability to distribute the ball efficiently will be a major factor. We have already seen dramatic changes in the Red Devils' displays under Louis van Gaal, with the Dutchman opting to dictate by ensuring the majority of possession. Having completed 79% of his total attempted passes for Madrid, a marginally superior success rate to Di Maria, it is unlikely Bale would be overlooked by the Dutchman.

Being the more athletic of the duo, Bale is perhaps unsurprisingly the more successful when it comes down to beating his opposing defender. The former Spurs midfielder has completed 58.5% of his take-ons this term, while Di Maria has found success in 42% of his attempts. As we have seen throughout his time with Real Madrid, his ability to dribble at goal is second to none.

Undoubtedly, van Gaal would love to add a goal scorer to his midfield, but the loss of Di Maria's creative prowess could prove costly. The Argentine international is currently experiencing a disappointing spell - largely due to a complete lack of confidence - but his performances earlier in the season are typical of the impact he can have at Old Trafford. 

Bale would command a hefty fee, as reports suggest, but if Di Maria were to quit the club in the near future, the Welshman would be an excellent addition. A proven Premier League goal scorer, capable of changing a game within an instant, he would be welcomed with open arms by the Old Trafford faithful. 

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