Angel Di Maria will come good at Man United, says Ashley Young

Holding midfielder Michael Carrick ruled out of the trip to Preston North End

Ashley Young is sure Manchester United did not make an expensive mistake when they spent €80 million and broke the British transfer record to sign Angel di Maria last summer.

United made a bold statement of intent when they smashed the transfer record to sign Di Maria from Real Madrid.

The early signs were good. Di Maria dazzled with his pace and trickery and his terrific chip over Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is one of the best goals United have scored this season.

Di Maria’s performances faded slightly thereafter, however, and he then struggled to recover from a hamstring problem towards the end of 2014.

Young has been a fan of the Argentinian midfielder for some time now, though, and he remains convinced United made a clever move by signing him last summer.

Top players

“Angel was a fantastic signing,” said Young.

"Real Madrid have other top players in their team, like Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, but he was the one who stood out for me in that team last season.

“When you add quality to a squad that already has quality it can only help us.

“We saw in the first couple of days in training just how good a player Angel is and what we can expect from him. He was definitely a great signing for us.”

Di Maria has scored just two more goals – against Everton and Yeovil – since that 5-3 defeat at Leicester in September.

The former Benfica midfielder has not been helped by the fact he has been shunted around the pitch into several different positions.

Di Maria has played as a number 10 in recent weeks and he even had a spell as a central striker as manager Louis van Gaal felt his team lacked pace up front.

The 27-year-old has been most effective when operating on the left-hand side of a midfield diamond.

Michael Carrick, who sits at the base of that diamond has enjoyed watching Di Maria this year and has been so impressed he has likened the player to one of United's all-time great midfielders Ryan Giggs.

“There are players who have got tricks and can drop the shoulder to go past players, but he is so direct in his play,” Carrick said of Di Maria.

“It is almost like Giggsy used to be in many ways. When he picks that ball up he can carry it and change direction pretty quickly, so it is very tough to defend against – especially if he is going through the middle of the park.

“There aren’t many players who go through the middle. You get wide players who do it, but you don’t see many players dribble through the middle of the pitch.”

United will be without Carrick for tonight’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Preston as he has suffered a setback in his recovery from a calf injury that has kept him out for the last fortnight.

Daley Blind looks set to continue in the holding midfield role, provided that he recovers from the head injury he suffered in the 3-1 win over Burnley last week

Van Gaal will make a late call on Robin van Persie, who is suffering with an unspecified injury.

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