Louis Van Gaal brought in Angel Di Maria as Manchester United's stellar signing last summer, but another South American midfielder from the North West has been recognised in this year's PFA Player of the Year nominations.
Liverpool's Coutinho is the attacking midfielder that has consistently impressed this season, aside from Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, and it is he who is up for the award alongside the Belgian and Chilean, Harry Kane, Diego Costa and David De Gea.
It would be easy to argue that Coutinho was the least qualified of the Premier League's elected shortlist, considering he is an attacking player who has scored just four goals in the league and assisted only four more.
But his quality has been displayed in his link up play, his quality of pass and his wonderful skill, and aside from the league the young attacking midfielder has also scored three times in Liverpool's FA Cup run.
Di Maria on the other hand is a player that arrived with a big fee, yet has recently struggled to take the place of Ashley Young in United's midfield. However, statistically he has a pretty strong record in his first season at Old Trafford.
Below we compare the two and see if Coutinho deserves to named among the league's six best players, while considering whether Di Maria has in fact had a better year than is recognised.
|Position||Team||Goals||Goal Assist||Minutes per Attempted Assist||Ontarget Attempted Assist||Ontarget Scoring Attempts||Big Chance Created||Succesful Take On||Passing Accuracy||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Ángel Di María||MF||Man Utd||3||10||32.60||29||17||12||44||77.99%||24||1565|
A quick glance at the stats seems to indicate that Manchester United's record signing Di Maria has had at least as big a contribution as Liverpool's young Brazilian. In fact, the Argentine's creative skills arguably even make him the better player on paper.
However, only four players have successfully dribbled past more players than Coutinho, two of whom are also up for Player of the Year (Hazard and Sanchez) while Anfield teammate Raheem Sterling is up for Young Player of the Year. The former Inter man has also made his goals count for the most part, three of them having been vital to securing points, with his winner against Manchester City a particular highlight.
David Ginola proved in 1999 that a player didn't have to score or assist tens of goals (Coutinho has already scored as many goals as the Frenchman did that year) if their overall footballing quality was at an extraordinarily impressive level, and Coutinho can look to justify his nomination along those lines.
On the flip side of that, Di Maria is actually the second highest assisting player in the entire division with ten, and also has demonstrated an ability to create big chances that is comparable to the best players in the league, some of whom having played 1000 minutes more football than the ex Real Madrid player.
Di Maria put in a superb start to the season, scoring three times and assisting six in his first ten games, but after a hamstring injury suffered in December ruled him out for much of the Christmas period, the 27-year-old has struggled to get back to form and a first team place. Only one of his goals have helped United secure points, and the Champions League winner has recently been stuck on the bench after returning from a suspension, largely down to United's impressive form with him out of the side.
But given how well he did for the opening third of the season, and considering his creative statistics, the Argentine may of course feel that he doesn't just deserve another chance in Van Gaal's starting lineup, but also more recognition from the footballing community in England.
But what do Manchester United and Liverpool fans think - how does Di Maria's performances compare to Coutinho's this campaign?