The Real Madrid winger was the match winner as Argentina booked their place in the World Cup quarter-finals but could he be set for a switch to the Premier League?Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi but Angel Di Maria is arguably just as important as his club and international team-mates.
The 26-year-old played a pivotal role to help Real Madrid lift the Champions League last season and he is making his mark at the World Cup too, as Argentina continue to make further strides at the tournament in Brazil.
Many, if not all of the Premier League's superpowers would have him in a heartbeat and Goal takes a closer look at Di Maria's transfer situation and what the future might hold for the versatile midfielder.
|PERFORMANCE AGAINST SWITZERLAND
Well, he scored the goal that sent Argentina through to the quarter-finals. That calm, late finish, along with his persistence to keep going and the energy to remain on the run in the 118th minute, were much the best elements of Di Maria's day.
He became more prominent in extra time, when others tired, and almost scored a second from 50 yards but, until he broke the deadlock, the search was on to find a diplomatic description of his display. Most things that he tried did not work: passes were misplaced, shots off target, decisions misguided. He lost possession an astonishing 51 times in the 120 minutes alone. A corner that he took went out of play before it curled back in. An attempt at a chipped rabona went out for a goal kick. A shot flew into the upper tier of the stands.
It was proof that even the finest of players can have games when very little goes right but it was a sign of Di Maria's status that he was not substituted and an indication of his character that he kept on going. Few ran further in the Argentine cause. Indeed, few played in as many positions. Coach Alejandro Sabella tried using him everywhere: he began on the left wing in a 4-4-2. He was on the right, in a midfield trio, in a front three. Yet rather than a tactical change, it took a superb run from Lionel Messi, committing four defenders to free up space for Di Maria, to belatedly bring the best from a world-class player.
|HE'D BE PERFECT FOR...
He is perfect for Real Madrid. Di Maria's position seemed under threat last summer when Los Blancos signed Gareth Bale. As Cristiano Ronaldo was the other winger, he was the obvious fall-guy. Instead, he reinvented himself as an attacking central midfielder, making driving runs forward to help the front three but also helping Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric out with the donkey work. As Di Maria was man of the match in the Champions League final, his status as a big-game player is secure.
Factor in the creativity of the player who recorded the most assists of anyone in Europe's top five leagues last season and it is hard to see why Madrid would want to get rid of him or, indeed, replace him.
If, somehow, he did become available, however, then almost everyone should want him, even if he would not come cheap. His versatility and talent would mean that he could fit easily into the Manchester United, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain teams, to name but three.
|WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
The 26-year-old says that he will not address the question of his future until after the World Cup and has asked his agent to keep him out of the loop until then. By then, of course, his bargaining position and reputation could be still stronger if he is a World Cup winner. The likelihood is that he will remain a Real Madrid player and a fundamental part of Carlo Ancelotti's team. If not, he has to hope that other managers did not watch this game and just saw the scoreline.