Will Angel Di Maria make it a memorable return to Manchester United?

Updated: Feb 12, 2019, 10:02 IST | AFP

Manchester United flop Di Maria out to prove a point on return to Old Trafford with PSG in Champions League Round-of-16 clash tonight

Will Angel Di Maria make it a memorable return to Manchester United?
PSG's Angel di Maria

An expensive flop who lasted just a single season at Manchester United, Angel di Maria might be keen to prove a point when he goes back to Old Trafford as a PSG player tonight.

The Argentine, who turns 31 later this week, has a vital role to play for PSG in their crunch Champions League Last 16, first leg against a resurgent United with Neymar and Edinson Cavani out injured.

Onus on Di Maria
Those absences will place even more of an onus on Di Maria to show why PSG were prepared to make him their superstar signing in the summer of 2015, two years before Neymar and Kylian Mbappe arrived in the French capital.

The former Benfica and Real Madrid man cost United a British record transfer fee of just under £60 million in 2014, but he was an unmitigated failure in England. Di Maria scored only three times in 27 Premier League appearances in 2014-15 for a United side who finished fourth, a long way behind champions Chelsea.

His time in England was also marred by an attempted burglary on his family's home outside Manchester that reportedly left his wife and daughter terrified, and keen to get away. His manager that year, Louis van Gaal, had hailed Di Maria as world class on his arrival. "I only stayed one year. It wasn't the best period of my career, or they didn't let me have my best time there," Di Maria said. "There were problems with the coach at the time. But thanks to God, I was able to come to PSG and be myself again."

Di Maria is in his fourth season in Paris and recently extended his contract to 2021. He has scored or created more than 70 goals in Ligue 1 for PSG, although he was signed chiefly to win big Champions League games and has been unable to prevent his side being knocked out in the Last 16 in each of the last two seasons. The appointment of Thomas Tuchel has coach has only helped a player who can perform in central midfield as well as on the wing.

'Extraordinary talent'
"He is a gift for me. Everything is easy with him because he is a top professional. He has extraordinary quality and works so hard," said Tuchel.

VAR set for Champions League debut
Rome: Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will make their debut in the Champions League starting this week. The system which was used during last year's FIFA World Cup was set to be rolled out in the Champions League from next season. However, it will make its debut six months earlier than anticipated.

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