Van Gaal praises attitude of record buy Di Maria
Louis Van Gaal expects Angel di Maria to remain a Manchester United player next season, despite admitting that the £59.7m British record signing may want to leave the club after struggling to impress in the Premier League.
Di Maria, who completed his move from Real Madrid to Old Trafford last August, is poised to return to the starting line-up against West Bromwich Albion today for the first time since being sent off in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat against Arsenal seven weeks ago.
The Argentina winger has scored just four goals in 30 appearances - seven of which have been as a substitute - and suffered the off-field trauma of a burglary at his Cheshire home in January.
Van Gaal conceded last month that he would consider allowing Di Maria to leave if he and his family were unhappy in Manchester, but the United manager now insists that the 27-year-old can overcome his difficult first year next season.
"I think Di Maria shall stay and he is working very hard," Van Gaal said. "I am pleased with his attitude, so that is not a problem.
"The manager and the club is always dependable on the opinion of the player himself, the player decides, so we shall see what he decides because he cannot say he has had a marvellous season here.
"But the decision is not only down to him because we have a contract, so we shall speak, always with every player, evaluation, as I always do. Then we speak with each other about the future and that is with every player."
Di Maria's absence from United's starting line-up in recent weeks coincided with the team's improved form, which has left Van Gaal's players within touching distance of securing Champions League qualification.
But with United suffering back-to-back league defeats against Chelsea and Everton, Van Gaal admits that an opportunity now beckons for Di Maria to reclaim his place and produce the form expected of him.
"A player has to contribute," Van Gaal said. "Normally Di Maria should have played, but in the last weeks he doesn't play any and the team is winning."
Van Gaal, meanwhile, confirmed that Wayne Rooney would be fit to face the Baggies this evening after scans allayed fears that the United captain suffered knee ligament damage against Everton last Sunday. But with Michael Carrick still sidelined with a calf injury, Luke Shaw being ruled out with a groin strain and Marcos Rojo is also still unavailable, United face Tony Pulis's team with their early-season injury problems resurfacing.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)
Manchester United v West Brom,
live, Sky Sports 1, 5.30