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Does an Ángel Di María reunion make sense for Manchester United?

The former United no. 7 is soon to be out of contract at PSG, and could be a good fit for Mourinho’s team.

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Paris Saint Germain v Club Atletico de Madrid - International Champions Cup 2018 Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images for ICC

Ángel Di María was supposed to be a statement signing for Manchester United. Captured from Real Madrid for a then British record transfer fee of £59.7m back in 2014, the midfielder was immediately handed United’s famous number 7 shirt. After a solitary season, the Argentinian international said goodbye to English football and joined French side Paris Saint-Germain.

For someone who was poised to lead the attacking legacy forward, his early exit led to many questions why the fanfare behind his arrival was so short lived. Three years later, however, it seems as though Di María could be looking at a second chance to make his mark in the Premier League.

Desperate to strengthen his team’s passing game, then-manager Louis van Gaal signed Di María to a five-year deal. For Di María, whose style includes breathtaking crosses from the wing, this allegedly resonated with the Dutchman. Unfortunately, the relationship was soiled from the start, as Di María became increasingly frustrated with van Gaal’s managerial decisions. For those reasons, he never comfortably settled in for a long-term career as a Red Devil.

Now that van Gaal has too left Old Trafford, José Mourinho could be keen to bring back his former player for a second shot. Di María is approaching his final year in the French capital, and as contract talks surface, he reportedly wants wages nearing £200,000 a week. For a 30 year-old with high demands, only a Premier League team could fork over such amounts. Big Six rivals Liverpool and Chelsea are also looking to use Di María’s talents. Given his history with not only United but the current manager, a return to Old Trafford could be the favored option.

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about five Manchester United players who left the club too soon. Di María was included in that shortlist. In United’s first win of the 2014/2015 Premier League campaign, Di María started quite well, finding the back of the net against Queens Park Rangers. An untimely hamstring sprain benched him early on, and foretold his future in a red shirt.

Ángel Di María had blistering speed and Louis Van Gaal’s tactics almost always slowed down the momentum United’s game. Di María was a midfielder at his best when counter attacking, his agility causing havoc for the opposition’s defense. Louis Van Gaal preferred a system where passing was at the forefront; not taking on defenders. Di María is a midfielder who is best when playing on the left of a midfield three, and Van Gaal failed to play him in his most successful role.

With Mourinho still in charge at Old Trafford, the idea of Di María returning isn’t unlikely. During his prime years at Real Madrid, Mou groomed him into one of Los Blancos most reliable stars. In a March 2017 interview, the Special One even expressed that he would have never sold him like his predecessor did. Given the Portuguese’s taste for finished players, his mentee has the capability to seamlessly sync with the current starting XI.

Despite his 56 goals in 147 appearances, PSG is locked with talented attacking options. Between Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe leading the charge, Di María is a second-string option, and not a direct threat to their future Champions League or Ligue One campaigns should he walk away at the end of his deal. He has been featured in every one of their matches this year, so his fitness is satisfactory and in line with the rest of United’s offense.

Ángel Di María is free to initiate conversation with interested clubs as early as January, and even if a proper deal isn’t done, Manchester United should meet with his team. While Di María is not always the most exciting man on the pitch, he is always one of the hardest working, and fully capable of eliciting moments of magic.