It has been yet another flawless season for Paris Saint-Germain. We are on the cusp of completing back-to-back domestic quadruples if we are to overcome Marseille this weekend in the Coupe de France Final. It is amazing really that this is being somewhat overlooked. For a team to complete a quadruple is one thing but to do it twice on the bounce is unheard of. Les Parisiens continue to make history and hopefully more beckons this weekend in what will be Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last ever game for the club.
The Swede was given an emotional send off at the Parc des Princes last Saturday. Bowing out as he did after breaking Carlo Bianchi’s record was something of a fairytale. All game the fans were willing him on to beat it and just when it looked as if it wasn’t to be, there he was in the 89th minute to rubber-stamp his legacy. He has one more game to go of course but it will take something special to top last weekend.
This has been the veteran’s best season out of the four in Parisian blue. He was named the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Season over a week and half ago which was also his third overall. But, 1970 PSG feels that someone else deserves adulation for their part this season. Someone who arrived with a big name, big money and a point or two to prove. He has certainly done that and more! Therefore, the 1970 PSG Player of the Season for 2015/16 is, Angel di Maria.
The Argentine has taken PSG to another level this season. It was as if he was the missing link. Prior to his arrival this was a team that was pretty much complete but just needed a sprinkle of magic dust. Di Maria was just that! A genuine world class talent who came for a vast amount of money from Manchester United. That itself illustrated how far this club has come to be able to lure a player of ADM’s ilk from a superpower in world football like the Red Devils.
He was heavily criticised for an ill-fated time in England. It was a season to forget for him and he pretty much had his heart set on a move to Paris before that transfer to England from Real Madrid in the summer of 2014. The FFP sanctions that were imposed on PSG meant that we were unable to complete a deal for the player during that time, even exploring possible loopholes; including a season-long loan before paying a lump sum the following summer. It just didn’t materialise.
The 28-year-old was worth the wait as both parties finally linked up last summer in perhaps the biggest signing the club has made since Zlatan in 2012. This was a statement of intent from QSI! You could sense that when the player was paraded on the balcony of the Shangri-La Hotel in front of the fans.
But, he did have his critics near the end of last October with L’Equipe lambasting him on their front cover and questioning his value for money. Whether or not that played a part in his renaissance is another matter but his form picked up immensely.
During the winter months Di Maria was the team’s biggest attacking outlet – no question! His influence from the right-hand has been massive. And not only that, he loves to come inside and link-up with his peers. It has given us something extra. The deliveries into the box are second to none but his eye for a pass is frightening. He has tore defences in two within the blink of an eye with one of those diligent passes, through balls or teasing crosses that have been lapped up by the likes of Ibra.
Di Maria’s form was noticed and thus became the Ligue 1 Player of the Month for December and only just missed out on the January award to Ibra.
The stats do not lie either. This season, the former United man accumulated 18 assists in the league which was not only the most this season but it also set a new Ligue 1 record by beating Marvin Martin’s haul of 17.
Add 10 goals to the mix – 15 overall in all competitions – and it makes impressive reading. Some of these included a stunning long-range volley at home to Angers at the turn of the year and an equally impressive beauty against Bordeaux to book our place in the Coupe de la Ligue Final. In that showpiece at the Stade de France last month, he ran the show for PSG. Even though were second best for large parts of that game, ADM was a our brightest outlet and as a result got the winner when we were under severe pressure after going a man down.
He finished as the club’s third top scorer behind Edinson Cavani and of course the big man.
Angel di Maria is one of those special talents that gets you off your seat. This is a genuine world class player who is only going to get better as he enters his peak. We are fortunate enough to have him here at the Parc des Princes and if he can better his inaugural campaign in the next, we are in for a treat.
As the club enters a transition with Ibra departing along with a number of other senior pros – Mr Underrated Maxwell potentially being another – this will be a defining time for the current crop of players. This will incur expectancy on the likes of Di Maria from the supporters. And hopefully this something he can thrive on!
But, that is a topic for another day. Angel, you have been a superstar!