Does Angel di Maria warrant a place in the Manchester United line-up?

Angel Di Maria Argentina

After a fantastic start to the season, Manchester United winger Angel di Maria's form has dipped.

When Manchester United signed Angel di Maria last summer, most thought it was a great signing, and that he would be a good fit at Old Trafford.

He may still be, and after the first few months of the season it looked as if the Argentinian had adapted to the Premier League instantly.

However, somewhere along the line since then, something has gone wrong for the former Real Madrid and Benfica player. His performances since the turn of the year have been poor.

Against Preston North End in the FA Cup last month, the Argentine looked devoid of ideas, and couldn't find a way to unlock the defence.

Di Maria has found the net just three times in his 20 Premier League appearances this season, whilst he has assisted eight goals for the team. Juan Mata has scored five goals this season and Ashley Young has looked a much improved player under Louis Van Gaal.

The former Villa man could perhaps consider himself unlucky not to find a place in the latest England squad. He has certainly shown more than Theo Walcott of late.

United's best display of the season came against Tottenham Hotspur last week, when Mata and Young were placed on the flanks, and gave Wayne Rooney some great support.

Di Maria was absent due to his red card in the FA Cup against Arsenal, and it would be interesting to see if Louis Van Gaal will tinker with a winning formula.

The Dutchman has said that the formation used against Spurs is his preferred one and you can see Di Maria fitting into it on the left wing.

We know he can produce it at the highest level; he was the man of the match in the Champions League final last season. However, he finds himself with some serious competition at United.

Mata never seems to have had a sustained run in the side and he deserves one. He is arguably the most creative player in the Manchester United squad, but fans haven't been able to see that on a regular basis.

The Spaniard moved from Chelsea to United for consistent first-team football, but he almost finds himself in exactly the same situation as 18 months ago.

There will most probably be a few enquires for Mata in the summer, and he will have a decision to make. According to The Mirror, Valencia are lining up a deal to reunite themselves with the 26-year-old.

It would be crazy if United did let him leave, though. Mata and Di Maria are able to play in the same team, and at the top of their games they would make the Red Devils a formidable prospect.

At 26, Mata may still have the best years of his career ahead of him. Van Gaal would have to find a replacement which come at a large price.

Mata deserves a run in the side until the end of the season, and with games against Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal still to come he would have a great opportunity to test himself.

If that means Di Maria has to settle with a place on the bench to accommodate Mata, then so be it for now, because Young would find himself hard done by as well if he was dropped.

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