Football: Van Gaal expects flop Di Maria to stay at United

Louis van Gaal expects Angel di Maria (above right) to remain at Manchester United despite being disappointed by the British record signing's lacklustre first season in the Premier League. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Louis van Gaal expects Angel di Maria (above right) to remain at Manchester United despite being disappointed by the British record signing's lacklustre first season in the Premier League. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Louis van Gaal expects Angel di Maria to remain at Manchester United despite being disappointed by the British record signing's lacklustre first season in the Premier League.

Former Real Madrid playmaker Di Maria has been linked with a move back to Spain or to Paris St Germain after failing to start any of United's last six games.

The Argentina international's family were also subjected to a terrifying burglary in January, increasing speculation he would try to quit United in the close-season.

But United manager Van Gaal says Di Maria, who cost £59.7 million (S$120 million), believes he will end up staying to prove his worth next term.

"I think Di Maria shall stay," van Gaal said. "He is working hard. I am pleased with his attitude, so that is not a problem.

"The manager and the club is always dependable on the opinion of the player himself. The player decides. We shall see what he decides.

"The decision is not only to him because now we have a contract, so we shall speak always with every player - evaluation, as I always do.

"Then we speak with each other about the future, and that is with every player." A month after earning the man-of-the-match award in Real Madrid's Champions League final win over rivals Atletico Madrid, Di Maria was part of the Argentina squad that made the World Cup final.

He missed the final due to injury, but his performances were good enough to earn him a place in the Fifa team of the tournament.

But, ever since he moved to England, Di Maria has found little joy on the pitch.

"He cannot say that he has had a marvellous season here," van Gaal said.

"Normally, Di Maria should have played, but the last weeks he doesn't play any more and the team is winning.

"Now, we are losing, so the chance of him coming back is higher. It is always like that. It is never that it is not like that.

"The issue that he is not always in the line-up is for him a disappointment, but also for me a disappointment."