Giggs, Beckham, Ronaldo. Manchester United have been spoiled with world class wingers over the years who could each turn a game on its head in a moment.
The current crop of wingers at Old Trafford often flatter to deceive though. With United lacking a consistent threat on the wings to terrorise defences and provide assists week-in week-out, Louis van Gaal may well put signing a wide-man on the top of his priority list.
The 2014 World Cup provided an opportunity for many of the world’s best wingers to demonstrate what they are capable of and they did not disappoint.
We’ve decided to take a look at some of the stars of the World Cup who put in some incredible performances for their country this summer and how they could potentially fill a void at Old Trafford.
Angel Di Maria
A victim of his own versatility, Di Maria can often be moved to positions other than his preferred spot out wide for both club and country. The talented Argentine always excels though and after losing his place to Gareth Bale at Real Madrid last season, Di Maria made a place in central midfield his own under Carlo Ancelotti, scoring 11 goals and provided 26 assists in 52 appearances.
He was an integral part of the Argentina squad and scored the winner against Switzerland in the last 16 which put them through to the quarter-final. He started in every game until suffering an injury against Belgium in the quarter-final that meant he missed out on both the semi-final and final.
There has always been a feeling of ‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ for Di Maria though, with Real Madrid’s other big money buys stealing the limelight. It would appear the winger has finally had enough.
Old Trafford has been touted as Di Maria’s preferred destination should he be allowed to leave Santiago Bernabéu.
James Rodriguez seems Real Madrid bound but that doesn’t mean United will definitely start the season without a Colombian amongst the ranks. Juan Cuadrado has been linked with a £35m move to the Premier League with United amongst the many admirers listed.
The midfielder was a crucial part of a Colombian side which dazzled at the World Cup making to the quarter-finals. On route, he scored once and provided four assists. Cuadrado keeps his play simple and direct but the converted right-back also offers great discipline defensively.
He enjoyed a fantastic season with his club prior to the World Cup with 15 goals in 43 appearances for Fiorentina, his best ever tally. That goal return would certainly be welcome at Old Trafford coming in off the right wing. Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Nani scored just seven between them last season.
The PSV winger’s stock rose rapidly during the World Cup as he the youngest ever Dutch goalscorer in the history of the World Cup at the age of 20 when he helped Holland to a 3-2 win over Australia with the winner.
The pacey, skilful and direct left-winger also left his mark against Chile when he doubled Holland’s lead to help them to top spot in Group B.
Domestically, his performances have also attracted attention. The left-winger scored 22 goals in 84 appearances for PSV and scored just 20 minutes into his debut in 2011.
He has recently been linked with a move to Tottenham but with Louis van Gaal now occupying the manager’s seat at Old Trafford, it would only take one phone call to persuade Depay that United was the right move for him.
Antoine Griezmann impressed at the World Cup despite starting just two matches as France looked far better and created more chances whilst Griezmann was on the pitch.
After yet another successful season in Spain with Real Sociedad, many clubs are reported to be interested in securing the 23-year-old’s services, including Liverpool and PSG. He scored 16 goals in 35 appearances for Sociedad and the young midfielder may see it has the right time to move away to take the next step in his career.
Manchester United may be a more suitable destination for the Frenchman though. With departures in his position expected, he would have the opportunity to make the left wing his own, which would provide good competition for the likes of Adnan Januzaj.