The ex-Barcelona and Spain star has heaped praise on the Argentine, and also believes Sergio Ramos could have won the Goal 50 but for a poor World CupEXCLUSIVE
By Ander Bilbao
Gaizka Mendieta has criticised Real Madrid for undervaluing Angel Di Maria after the winger finished 13th in the 2014 Goal 50.
The Argentina international enjoyed a magnificent 2013-14 season, winning the Champions League and Copa del Rey with Los Blancos before helping his country reach the World Cup final, to take his place in our annual list.
However, just like last summer, his future at the club is in doubt following the recent signings of James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos.
"Di Maria is an example of someone who has overcome obstacles," Sony's World Cup ambassador Mendieta told Goal.
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"For Argentina, also, Di Maria solves so many team problems with the width he gives and his individual quality. He needs to feel important in the team to be a relevant club player."
Mendieta, who won 40 caps for Spain and reached two Champions League finals with Valencia, also believes that Sergio Ramos could have won the Goal 50 and the Ballon d'Or had his country not flopped at the World Cup.
"If it wasn't for the disappointment of the World Cup, he could have been a candidate," the retired midfield ace said of the centre-half, who wound up 10th in the Goal 50.
"We saw [in 2006] that [Italy defender Fabio] Cannavaro won the Golden Ball so why not Ramos this time? He played well and scored important goals, but the World Cup changed the perspective of the player he really is.
"He is one of the best centre-backs in the world. He is a leader for Real Madrid and the Spain team."
Mendieta also heaped praise on Keylor Navas, who finished 23rd in the Goal 50 after a magnificent year for Levante and Costa Rica.
"He had a great season, and not only at the World Cup," the 40-year-old gushed.
"He is a goalkeeper who will make the jump to a major team [Real Madrid] because he has demonstrated he is capable of playing for a big team.
"He has proven that he is among the best goalkeepers in the world."
Click HERE to see the full list for the 2014 Goal 50
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