I could say this has been one of the longest running transfer sagas of the summer but in actual fact it has been a whole lot longer than that. Paris Saint-Germain’s yearlong pursuit of Angel di Maria is on the cusp of being completed. He could potentially be the club’s most expensive signing as numerous figures have been mooted with the latest being £45m from the British press.
Last summer, the club made a mistake by putting all their eggs in one basket to try and lure Di Maria from his then club, Real Madrid. Financial Fair Play sanctions were detrimental to our transfer dealings and Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s plans along with deputy sporting director Olivier Letang to bring in targets were scuppered. They thought the deal for the Argentine would have been a foregone conclusion but those rulings placed against us by UEFA meant that spending was restricted and essentially we needed to sell in order to buy (taking into consideration the wage bill as well).
Les Parisiens had to try to figure out loopholes in order to do business. This was successful in the case of Serge Aurier. He completed a season-long loan from Toulouse before eventually making his move permanent earlier this summer for €12m. David Luiz’s mammoth arrival of €50m practically cancelled out any more incomers for a transfer fee so the Parisian entourage even proposed a loan deal for Di Maria to Real’s president Florentino Perez who politely refused. That was that, the deal was dead. The Argentine would then go on to become English football’s most expensive signing by joining Manchester United for around £60m.
His inaugural campaign in England was indifferent. He started out on fire, lauded as a breath of fresh air to the league but his performances beyond Christmas diminished. Not adapting to the culture? Finding the pace of the English game too frenetic? Or just not fitting into the Manchester United philosophy? Who knows? But, the player never deterred away from the intitial interest shown in him by PSG.
In an interview with Telefoot last November, ADM spoke quite candidly on the whole saga and said; “PSG, I think they had a money problem and they couldn’t buy players. This is the main reason I didn’t go there. Playing in the French league would please a lot of players. Now I’m in the English league. But you never know, there is a lot of movement in football. You can never predict where you’re going to play. There were a lot of clubs interested in me. A lot really. But Manchester United appeared and didn’t go away. They absolutely wanted me and it happened. It could have been a good experience for me to go to Paris. I know I’m still young, perhaps I’ll go to PSG one day. I don’t know how it will all end.”
Since that interview was made, the link with the club resurfaced and never went away. Paris made a real impression on Di Maria at that time. He had his heart set on the move it seems and the same can be said for Paris Saint-Germain. Nasser Al-Khelaifi wants this man playing for the football club. Even though he joined one of the elite from a club on level footing in Los Blancos, the player has anchored for this to come to fruition. It is incredible really when you think that PSG are in a position to now entice this kind of talent from the likes of Real and United.
Had it not been for FFP restrictions last summer, he would be a Paris Saint-Germain player right now; that is a fact. United you can say were going through a transition and their recent business of signing the likes of Memphis Depay and potentially Pedro from Barcelona (a possible replacement for ADM), suggests that it was a move that just not worked. It happens, some players just do not fit into the philosophy of a club and when a manager like Louis Van Gaal is so insistent on this, then usually the exit door looms.
The player himself though has not seemed at home in Manchester. Daily Telegraph journalist Mark Ogden who covers football in Northern England including Manchester said in an interview with TalkSport; “I don’t think he is going to stay at United. I think they will get the deal done and then make a move for Pedro. The suggestion with Di Maria is his wife is really unhappy in Manchester and also he just doesn’t buy into Van Gaal’s philosophy. Managers and players have to connect and I don’t think Di Maria and Van Gaal have hit it off.”
That seems more than plausible and just leaves a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ the deal gets concluded. Letang has been in negotiations with United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that is no secret. It appears as if it will be just minor details to thrash out as the player has already agreed in principle to the move according to Le Parisien.
It will be a monumental signing for Paris Saint-Germain. Not just because of the fee but to prise him away from an institution like United. Yes, the culture may have been a problem to the player which caused his unsettling but this is Manchester United. You only leave there if you have good reason to.
And that says a lot for the French champions as well as Ligue 1 as a whole.