Louis van Gaal expects Angel Di Maria to remain at Manchester United next season, despite his under-par debut season in English football.
The Reds smashed the British transfer record when they paid Real Madrid £59.7million for the Argentina international in the summer, in what was arguably the headline transfer of the window. But despite a promising start to life in the Premier League, the forward will consider his first campaign in the country to be something of a disappointment both individually and for the team.
Although United are well on course for a top-four finish they will end the season without a trophy for the second successive season, whilst Di Maria has scored just three times in 25 league appearances, although it must also be added that he has made 10 assists, which is bettered only by Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas who has created 17 goals for Jose Mourinho’s champions-elect.
Before the Old Trafford club lured Di Maria to Manchester he was heavily linked with a move to Paris St Germain, and it was suggested that he would have preferred such a move had financial fair play not prevented them firming up an interest. But despite reports of renewed interest from the French club in the summer, van Gaal expects the 27-year-old to remain at United.
“I think Di Maria shall stay,” he said. “He is working hard. I am pleased with his attitude, so that is not a problem. The manager and the club is always dependable on the opinion of the player himself. The player decides. We shall see what he decides. The decision is not only to him because now we have a contract, so we shall speak always with every player – evaluation, as always.”
United, meanwhile, will bolster their grip on a top-four finish if they can beat West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. Liverpool’s defeat at Hull City in midweek means van Gaal’s side have a seven point lead over their rivals, with just four matches of the campaign remaining. So a win against the Baggies would put them within reach ahead of the trip to Crystal Palace next weekend.
After last season’s seventh-place finish under David Moyes, it was always the target to return to the top-four this term, so even if van Gaal may think his side could have done so much better he is certainly on course to achieve his first goal. Next campaign will be altogether different, though, as the former Holland coach believes his side will be challenging once more for the title.
“The board have given three years for that objective. This year we have not challenged but we are very close to the second position,” he said. “We started badly this year but if you cut the start of it we should equalise Chelsea. So we have to start next season better. Next year definitely we will challenge. We will have another squad but not only us. We need balance and I’ve said that many times.”
If Paris Saint Germain renew their interest in Angel di Maria this summer, should Manchester United welcome a bid and consider offloading the Argentine forward?