To say that Angel Di Maria’s stint at Manchester United did not go well is something of an understatement.
Di Maria originally joined in the summer of 2014 as new boss Louis Van Gaal’s first marquee signing.
He arrived at Old Trafford for a club-record £59.7million fee, having put in a man-of-the-match performance as Real Madrid won the Champions League final and shone in Argentina’s run to the World Cup final in Brazil.
There were some memorable moments – who could forget that chip against Leicester – and a record of four goals and 12 assists in 32 appearances is far from disastrous, but the Argentinian struggled to settle in Manchester and was desperate to leave by the end of his one season with the club.
Things have turned pretty acrimonious since his departure in 2015, as underlined by some explosively scathing quotes from all parties involved. Tell us how you really feel, Angel.
Van Gaal the worst coach of my career
“My problem at Manchester was the coach,” Di Maria told Argentine TV network TyC Sports.
“Van Gaal was the worst of my career. I would score, assist, and the next day he would show me my misplaced passes.
“He displaced me from one day to the other, he didn’t like players being more than him.”
The No.7 shirt
“I didn’t give a f*ck about the Manchester United no.7,” he added in the same interview.
“At first they talked to me a lot about it, it was just a shirt.”
Life in England is difficult
“Honestly, we were not happy,” Di Maria told Le Parisien back in 2015, not long after leaving United for PSG. He struck a more diplomatic tone back then.
“At the beginning, we were a little. But then things became complicated.
“Life in England was a bit difficult. It is not easy for a South American. Some people get on fine, and for others it is harder to adapt.
“I didn’t have a great relationship with the coach, so I think the decision to join Paris was the best solution.”
“Already struggling for form, Di Maria was the victim of a terrifying burglary at his home in January 2015, which left him desperate to leave United at any cost,” revealed Daily Mail journalist Adam Shergold in a piece looking back at why the transfer never worked out.
“In the end, an aloofness in the United dressing room that stemmed from bemusement at what he was doing there escalated into a full-blown slanging match with Wayne Rooney and others after one under-powered performance.
“But far from sending his career into a nosedive, the bad year with United only made Di Maria more determined to succeed and he has found Paris much more to his liking.”
He could have been a major star
Rooney himself doesn’t bear a grudge against his former team-mate and describes him in glowing terms.
“PSG’s match-winner might just be Di Maria. He’s a wonderful player,” United’s all-time top scorer wrote in the Sunday Times ahead of the 2020 Champions League final.
“When he came to United I remember Louis van Gaal saying to the team: “He is the only one who is allowed to dribble with the ball.”
“Angel works tirelessly on the pitch and his delivery, vision and awareness is brilliant. He could have been a major star at United but at the time we were going through a bit of a transition and it was tough for him to settle.
“He had young kids and lived a couple of houses down from me and someone tried to burgle him. I remember that really shook him and his family. From then on, really, you knew it was going to be tough for him and it was probably better for him to leave.”
A complete fanny
Independent journalist Miguel Delaney quoted an unnamed former Manchester United player as describing Di Maria as “talented but a complete fanny”.
Others felt that the star signing “wasn’t giving 100%”, which is consistent with the details outlined in the Daily Mail report above.
I gave him all the chances
“I was satisfied,” responded Van Gaal in a 2019 Guardian interview, when asked if the Argentina international was his choice or the board’s.
“Because he was a creative player, but I had other players on the list. Di Maria had a problem with the English football culture and the climate. You cannot buy players and know, for sure, that they can deliver. You cannot know because football is a team sport.
“I always ask a player where he wants to play. For him it was wing, wide and mostly left. In the Argentina team he plays on the left. I started with him there. He was not performing that well, to a level you could expect from an £80million player.
“I believe, then, I have to see if another position is better for him. I have played him left winger, as the 10, second striker and on the right. Then the critics say he is having to play in too many positions.
“I gave him all the chances that there were to perform well.”
United might’ve had the last laugh when they knocked Di Maria’s PSG out of the Champions League back in 2019, but the Argentinian enjoyed drawing the first blood, having sent in the corner for Presnel Kimpembe’s opener at Old Trafford.
Di Maria was in the perfect spot to tell the United fans what he thought of them, and he wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip.
Don’t think you’ll need a professional lip reader to decipher what Angel Di María shouted at the United fans during the goal celebrations 🤬 pic.twitter.com/mYLUk0JxSp
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) February 12, 2019
Nighttime at two o’clock
“Angel came to me one day and said, ‘Look at this proposal from Manchester United’,” Di Maria’s wife Jorgelina Cardoso recalled in an interview on the Argentinian TV show LAM.
“I didn’t want to go, I told him to go alone. ‘Let’s go both of us’, he replied. It was a lot of money, more than the Spaniards had offered.
“So, we went. If you work in a company and someone offers you double the salary, you go running.
“We were friends with Gianinna Maradona, Sergio Aguero’s wife, and we travelled to Manchester on vacation for a year.
“It was always horrible! We came home and I said: ‘If you’re ever transferred, make sure it’s anywhere in the world but England.'”
“I didn’t like it at all… I can tell you,” Cardoso added.
“People are all weird. You walk around and you don’t know if they’re going to kill you. The food is disgusting. The women look like porcelain.
“Angel and I were in Madrid, at the best team in the world, perfect food, perfect weather, everything was perfect. And then came United’s proposal…
“I told him ‘no way, no way’, but he kept saying we will be a little more financially secure and we have to go. We fought about it… We try to be closer when things go wrong.
“I don’t blame him for going there. It was horrible, so horrible. I just told him, ‘Darling, I want to kill myself, it’s nighttime at two o’clock.’”
He hates Manchester United
“Di Maria hates Manchester United,” former PSG goalkeeper Marcin Bułka told Polish YouTube channel Foot Truck.
“He has no good memory of the time he spent there. In fact, when something related to Manchester United appears on television, he changes the channel quickly.”
Van Gaal’s last word
Back in charge of the Netherlands and looking to stop Di Maria’s Argentina, Van Gaal doesn’t appear to bear a grudge.
“Di Maria called me the worst manager he’s ever had? He’s one of the few players with that opinion. I’m sorry for that and I think it’s sad that he said that. Memphis had to deal with that too in Manchester, and now we kiss on the lips.”
Van Gaal: "Di María chamou-me o pior treinador que ele já teve? Ele é um dos poucos jogadores com essa opinião. Sinto muito por isso e acho triste que ele tenha dito isso. Memphis teve que lidar com isso também em Manchester, e agora nos beijamos na boca." pic.twitter.com/KgI8THcuM8
— Cabine Desportiva (@CabineSport) December 8, 2022