Angel di Maria: The stats that prove he is no Manchester United flop
Argentine next to Cesc Fabregas for assists this season
Angel di Maria is battling to dislodge Ashley Young from the Manchester United team for Saturday’s Old Trafford clash with Aston Villa after suffering an alarming loss of form since his British record £59.7m transfer from Real Madrid.
But despite the Argentine’s recent struggles – epitomised by his erratic performance as a substitute during the 2-1 win at Liverpool 10 days ago – performance statistics show that Di Maria is making a bigger impact on Louis van Gaal’s team than it would appear.
Di Maria’s pass for Juan Mata’s spectacular scissor-kick winner at Anfield was the ninth goalscoring assist provided by the former Benfica wideman since arriving at United last August.
Only Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has created more goals in the Premier League than Di Maria this season, with the Spaniard teeing up an impressive 16 goals for Jose Mourinho’s league leaders. Here's the full breakdown based on Premier League statistics this season:
No of goalscoring assists
Di Maria 9
Santi Cazorla, whose recent form for Arsenal has been a key factor in their surge into the Champions League positions, is tied with Leighton Baines, Stewart Downing and Gylfi Sigurdsson with eight assists, but it is Di Maria that stands out.
It now begs the question about whether United should persevere with their much-maligned record signing. The Argentine has, after all, suffered from fitness troubles this season: hamstring and pelvic injuries have restricted his appearances to just 19 starts and two substitute appearances in the league, while he was also denied a 'bedding-in' period at Old Trafford thanks to his late-August arrival.
Had he been more fortunate with injuries, and arrived a little earlier, it is conceivable that his assist figures may have been closer to those of Fabregas, who has started 25 games and been substitute once for Chelsea.
During his 21 appearances in the league, Di Maria has created 46 goalscoring opportunities, with just under a quarter being converted into goals.
It all goes to underline why Manchester United were prepared to spend that eye-watering transfer fee in the first place, and why Van Gaal might be well advised to persevere with him when he sits down to plot next season's Premier League title assault in the summer.