Being Ángel di María can’t be easy. With the Paris Saint-Germain forward, there seems to be no grey area. From his emergence at Benfica, to his success at Real Madrid, he was one of Europe’s best.

Disaster at Manchester United dropped his stock and he quickly jumped ship, joining the Parisians for £44million just 12 months after his £57.9million move to Old Trafford broke the British transfer record.

Scoring 10 goals and helping himself to 18 assists, the Argentine was an instant hit in Paris. If it wasn’t for Zlatan Ibrahimović, he would have been Ligue 1’s player of the year in 2016.

It was a far cry from his situation in England and once he escaped, he didn’t wait long before lashing out at Louis van Gaal.

Through the Manchester United Darkness

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“Every time I was given the opportunity I did the best I could but it didn’t work out,” he told BBC Sport’s Football Focus.

“I decided to leave, not only to be happy, but to win things.”

The winger left Manchester after three league goals and 11 assists, joining the United fans by lying the blame of his poor form at the door of the Dutch boss.

“I started a game in a position, and then the next one I would be in another,” Di María admitted.

“I scored goals playing in one position, and then suddenly the next game I was picked to play in a different position.”

Being robbed while living in there Cheshire home was thought to have been a huge factor too, with the player and his family feeling uncomfortable throughout the rest of his stay.

It just wasn’t meant to be, and Paris gave him an escape and a new lease of life.

Playing and training around countrymen like Javier Pastore, and other South Americans too, Di María settled quickly.

“When you have a new foreign player who arrives in a country he does not know, it’s not that easy,” said then PSG boss Laurent Blanc about his new arrival.

“He has adapted well. I think the city of Paris and the French mentality suit him. That is certainly what he told me.”

“He is a boy who will feel more at ease when he masters the language, on and off the field.”

The 29-year-old revitalised the PSG attack. He added pace, quality, the ability to pick a pass or find a finish. Zlatan could follow up the fast breaks and he would score goals on the follow up.

Ángel Di María’s Resurrection in Paris


Di María would play on the right, cutting on to his left-foot and it left space for Edinson Cavani to play off the left channel. It worked to devastating effect and the Argentine was the new prince of Paris.

Going into that second campaign, the former Benfica man struggled. In the opening six games he picked up just two assists. Going into Christmas he had made it five, scoring his first goal of the current campaign against Nantes in November.

The break didn’t do any good and Di María would go seven league games without contributing a goal or an assist. Worlds apart from the player the Parc des Princes had seen just 12 months previous.

Ibrahimović’s departure saw Cavani move central and the new Spanish boss preferred Lucas Moura on the right and Di María on the left.

It seemed nonsensical at the time. The Argentine had been a constant threat moving inside onto his left-foot, Unai Emery took that away from him and the player and team suffered.

PSG’s boss saw the problem and around the end of 2016 he tried him on the right, but Di María’s confidence was shot and his quality had dropped.

Angel Di Maria's form has dropped at PSG

His numbers have fallen this season: shots on goal from 2.9 to 2.3 per 90 minutes. He’s attempting to beat players less, from 4 to 2.8 per 90.

It’s no surprise that with bad form, he’s seeing less of the ball, his passes per 90 stands at 52.9, down from 65 and that leads to fewer key passes, 3.3 down from 4.2.

Finding a new lease of life

Julian Draxler’s arrival in the January transfer window helped massively. The former Wolfsburg winger took that role on the left and his performances, starting off with a bang, similar to Di María’s arrival, sparked life.

Despite his double against Barcelona in February, it over the past five games that Di María has scored four out of his six goals this season. The competition for places seems to have had an effect on him.

“I believe Angel is getting very involved,” said Unai Emery. “We want two players competing for each position.”

Gaining new belief and new life, he has rediscovered his confidence. Scoring from distance, bending in free-kicks and even finding the neat, spontaneous finishes that had caught the eye in his opening campaign.

Signing Draxler and the return of Javier Pastore from injury gave Emery more options and Di María played some games off the bench, something that has helped the Argentine.

“I did not start well,” Di María told PSG’s official website. “I was not at the level I had hoped to be at. I think the fact I played the Copa America and a lot of matches had an influence. I suffered a dip.”

“In 2017, I was able to spend time with my family in Argentina, recharge my batteries, think about what had been achieved – I needed to change something, to be better. I managed to score goals, make more assists, that is the important thing.”

Once you score a couple of goals, get the fans onside, it’s easy to forget the bad times.

Should he stay or should he go?

PSG finished second to Monaco last season, adding to the 6-1 humiliation suffered against Barcelona, it would be easy to see Unai Emery leave the Parc des Princes this summer.

It’s not been an easy first year and President Nasser Al-Khelaifi is not a patient man.

Change can be good, but too much change is bad. PSG need to decide what they want more stability on the field, or on the bench.

Somewhat damaged goods, it will be difficult to find someone to pay a fee that the Parisians would take to sell Di María. Regardless if he can find his best form again, Di María is stuck with them as much as they are stuck with him.

When he is on form, the man who won the Champions League with Real Madrid can play as good as anyone else in Europe. His left foot is unstoppable and he is a real difference maker.

But with the Ligue 1 side going big for both Neymar and Alexis Sanchez there may not be room for Di Maria, on form or not, in their attack for the 2017/18 campaign.

Whoever oversees PSG next season, as well is finding the best combination for the attack, they need to find a way to squeeze every last drop out of the Argentine international.

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