Former club translator Débora Gomes has explained why Angel Di Maria was unhappy at Manchester United, noting that the Argentine felt he was viewed primarily as a tool for profit rather than a player the club valued.
The Argentine arrived in August 2014 for a British record sum of £59.7m and made a positive start to life at Old Trafford, claiming two goals and two assists in his first four matches.
But things very quickly started to go south and Di Maria, following a stream of poor performances and injuries, left for Paris Saint Germain less than a year later.
And Gomes, who worked as a translator for Di Maria during his time at the club, noted that the winger never felt settled at Old Trafford.
“Firstly, he couldn’t communicate with anyone,” he said. “And second because he realised the club bought him not because the club thought ‘oh, he will bring titles to us because he is a good player.’ No. Because they simply wanted to sell his shirts.”
“This I heard inside the club, the people talking. ‘Di Maria sells T-shirts, so let’s buy him’. So he was not happy.
“Then I realised, after Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, the club lost interest in football. It’s money, money, money. It’s making money and that’s it. So the players, when they try and decide who to buy, they will meticulously say: ‘what will bring more money?’ They are not thinking of bringing joy to the fans. They are thinking of selling.”
There is a ‘Di Maria 7′ shirt that sits hung up in my wardrobe at home. It is, to date, the last United shirt I have bought.
His time at Old Trafford was less like a career move and more like a mirage: a period where the Di Maria we saw was somehow an imitation of Di Maria himself, almost as if his essential visual qualities had been conjured up to create the illusion of the Champions League winner, a sense of Di Maria, but not actually the man himself.
Looking at his shirt from time to time, placed next to Rooney 10’ and ‘Welbeck 19’, conjures up this notion. Di Maria’s season at Old Trafford, after all, was far from the normal damp squib you get with some signings.
You really got the sense as time went on that Louis van Gaal had hardly anything to do with this signing, and that the board, following the club’s worst season in decades, simply needed a big name to create a feeling of the tide moving in the opposite direction.
And they certainly got exactly that. My money is in their pocket. That chip against Leicester City occasionally receives an airing. And, at the same time, never once did we see Di Maria playing in a role that suited his style, or around players that complimented him, or even under a manger who looked interested in using him properly. His time at Old Trafford, in hindsight, was experienced in spite of him, not by him.
Put simply, we were all conned, and supporters can only be thankful that the current manager at the helm wouldn’t even consider sanctioning signings that were, in a sense, essentially metaphorical.