Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United back in 2009, a player of his ilk has been missing from the side. Somebody who can carve a chance out of anything, who can breath life into a dull game with a single moment of brilliance.
Robin van Persie was a fantastic signing and a superb finisher but for all his great link-up play, he isn’t like Ronaldo, nor Angel di Maria.
The Argentinian is a player who makes you shift to the edge of your seat as soon as he has the ball at his feet. He’s a player who can create something from nothing, a curator of magic whose wand of a left footed is able to conjure up pretty much anything he asks it too.
Look at his five games so far in a United shirt:
Burnley – Di Maria immediately showed a willingness to run with the ball and was dangerous from the outset.
QPR – First goal for United with a free-kick that went straight in and was the conductor for United’s fantastic win.
Leicester – Stunning goal and was the heartbeat of United’s positive attacking play.
West Ham – Probably his most muted performance so far but still an essential outlet.
Everton – Scored the first and set-up Falcao’s winner. Once again, instrumental for United.
Every game, Di Maria has had special moments, individual moments of brilliance that you turn to the person next to you to share an approving nod with after a great cross or a wild hug after he scores.
That was what Ronaldo brought in his latter years – a startling consistency that rightfully saw him labelled the best player in the world. Every game you could depend on him to deliver.
So far in his United career, Di Maria has done precisely that and the best thing about it is that you can see he isn’t running at full capacity yet. On paper, Di Maria should have taken some time to acclimatise and get used to his new surroundings but he has taken to Old Trafford like a duck to water.
The more games Di Maria plays, the fitter he gets and you could see that against Everton as he was still influencing the game in the later stages because he had energy left in the tank.
It’s still early doors in Di Maria’s career at United but he looks worth every single penny of the £59.7m paid for him so far.