Over the course of the summer, we’ll be tracking the most realistic potential signings for Arsenal and publishing our profiles and assessment of each footballer.
Angel Di Maria
The name of one of the world’s greatest playmakers was mentioned in the summer of 2013 as a potential Arsenal signing and the rumors have persisted into this window as well. The Argentine was impressive in the Champion’s League final against Atletico Madrid, as he usually is, and should any further research be needed, his chipped ball to set up the Messi goal against Slovenia is a resumé fit for any team.
A Di Maria move to Arsenal would have similar effects to an Antoine Griezmann signing, except playing time for Lukas Podolski on the left would be even harder to come by. Di Maria could very well be the type of signing that solves the puzzle on the left flank for years to come. At 26 years old, Di Maria has a full contract left of play at the highest level. His vision and ability to collapse the defence with trademark intricate dribbles and fantastic through passes would significantly change the scope of Arsenal’s need in this transfer window.
Angel Di Maria can play on the left, through the middle, and on the right. When deployed on the left, he is traditionally in a slightly deeper role than when Ancelotti uses him on the right. While not a voracious defender and at times displaying an unwillingness to track back, it may be a case of culture he was brought up in more than anything else. In Mesut Özil’s early games with Arsenal, he displayed similar trepidation but toward the end of the season, he dropped deeper more often to stamp out fires and restart the attack. Di Maria’s strengths almost certainly outweigh any of his noticeable weaknesses by a wide margin. A tremendous dribbler, his ability to maintain possession and escape from trouble is terrifying. He also handles contact well, though the type of physicality in the Premier League will take adjusting to, much like it did for his former teammate.
But if Di Maria is dangerous when getting to the final third, he’s lethal when inside it. His vision is sensational, but it’s his creativity that truly sets him apart. His technical ability allows him the luxury of selecting from any number of balls to play in to onrushing midfielders or target strikers.
Shift in Tactics
Di Maria fills a position, and is of such quality, that it shifts the landscape of necessity in this transfer window. Should he make the move from Madrid to London, Arsène Wenger may rightly choose to sign a striker of Loïc Rémy’s quality and nothing more. This provides some depth at the position, but frees up significant funds to be used for additions in the deep midfield and defence. While such circumstances may be unpopular with supporters, a team that was at the top of the table last January with no striker but Giroud would be set up well for a title challenge with those signings.
Di Maria is listed at around £30 million. His main position is on the right, which can come under assault by either Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo, which has led to more time on the left. Reports of Di Maria being surplus to requirements or not on good terms with Ancelotti are likely exaggerated, and it’s hard to imagine him not receiving significant playing time, but the rumors persist. Should he be available at this price, he’s a potential signing every Arsenal fan and player should be excited about.