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How would Van Gaal fit Di Maria into his Manchester United midfield?

Angel Di Maria Argentina

The signing of the Argentine star could cause plenty of selection issues for the United manager.

With reports that Angel Di Maria is still at the top of Manchester United's wish list ongoing, unsurprisingly given extra traction by Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti admitting the player has asked to leave the Spanish giants, one thing that hasn't been considered is just where the Argentinian star would fit into the club's midfield.

Sure it's great to have strength in depth at a club, especially one as big as United, but with the Red Devils absent from European competition this year, there are far less games to go around for their squad of international players.

With very few midfield player sales coming about since last season, United are essentially still in possession of a squad built for the Champions League, with players coming in to the club to increase competition for places.

Arguably defence is the one area of the team that still needs strengthening, with two central defenders and two left backs having departed, and one of each being brought in so far, but with Van Gaal eager to utilise a 3-5-2 system at Old Trafford, those three central midfield spots are going to be the most fiercely contested.

Sure there are plenty of players at United that are available for transfer, but unless they get moved on before the end of the window, Van Gaal is going to have a squad full of frustrated players getting little game time.

Below we speculate where Di Maria would fit into United's team:

Ander Herrera - The recent acquisition from Athletic Bilbao is a tenacious and skilful player more than able to get amongst it and then play killer pass to those ahead of him. Whether he is enough of an anchor man to allow the rest of the United midfield to play is the problem Van Gaal will have. He certainly isn't a Nigel de Jong figure, though the 24-year-old may find himself having to adapt his game a little.

Angel Di Maria - Di Maria proved last season at the Bernabeu that he is able to play a deeper, more central role than he is used to. Usually operating on the wing where his pace and driving runs could do the most damage, the Argentine played several games to great effect in the middle of the park, mainly to accommodate Gareth Bale's position on the right wing. This could be what Van Gaal has in mind for him at United.

Juan Mata - Unless the Spaniard leaves the club, he is very much likely to be the preferred option in the attacking midfield role. Given that the former Chelsea man's talents are very top heavy going forward, while Di Maria and Herrera are both able to work hard and offer much more defensively, this is really the only role Mata can play unless Van Gaal reverts to 442.

Luke Shaw is surely set to operate as the left sided wingback for Van Gaal's side. Right wingback is a little more open to debate, though is likely to be contested by Rafael and Antonio Valencia. Potentially, Di Maria could play such a role, given his superb work rate and great engine, but it is more likely he would play further forward.

Naturally, Wayne Rooney, as captain, will be first choice up front alongside Van Gaal favourite Robin van Persie.

The big problem for United's Dutch boss is that the list of players still at the club but not in this line up is vast: Adnan Januzaj, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Shinji Kagawa, Marouane Fellaini, Tom Cleverley and Anderson would all be disappointed to be out of the starting eleven, with the first three those Van Gaal is most likely to keep. Arguably, the rest are all available for transfer on some level, but getting at least some of them out and off the wage bill in the next eight days will be a big achievement.

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