Talk of Real Madrid is invariably dominated by one man – Cristiano Ronaldo.
Gareth Bale has forced his way into the discussion as well, with his excellent first year in Spain, and Karim Benzema remains vital to the cause too. But Angel Di Maria, about to quit the Champions League winners for Manchester United, is as valuable as any member of the BBC.
The BBC, incidentally, is the tag given to Bale, Benzema and Cristiano by the Spanish press.
Di Maria’s initials don’t make for a handy acronym and his status as an industrious but quiet midfielder with as much ability as he has stamina doesn’t sell shirts. If he had finished as the World Cup Golden Boot and not James Rodriguez then the Colombian would still be in Monaco and Di Maria wouldn’t be bound for Manchester.
Madrid President Florentino Perez could do worse than check last season’s statistics from EuroFantasyLeague.com. The numbers confirm how vital Di Maria was to the campaign that finally delivered La Decima, some 12 years after Madrid’s last European Cup success. Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema lead the way in terms of points scored but Di Maria is next on the list and not by a distance either.
Ronaldo was unsurprisingly Los Blancos’ best point-scorer – he was second-highest in the entire game, behind only Luis Suarez. Di Maria’s tally of 370 points is more than respectable and places him ahead of the 190 accrued for Bayern Munich by Toni Kroos, or the 180 Luka Modric recorded for Madrid. Give Di Maria back the points he lost for being booked six times – a sign of his combative nature – and he reaches the 400-point mark.
EuroFantasyLeague’s stats confirm Di Maria’s importance in other ways. No Madrid player was responsible for creating more goals than the 17 set up by the ex-Benfica man. Bale was the only Madrid player to reach double figures and Ronaldo, not always the best team player, claimed nine. The Portuguese netted 31 times but Di Maria deserves credit for his role in Ronaldo’s individual success.
Man of the Match in the Champions League, Di Maria got little of the glory as the goals went elsewhere – Sergio Ramos’ dramatic equaliser, Bale’s vital second, Marcelo’s trophy-sealing third and Ronaldo’s capping fourth from the penalty spot, complete with one-man shirtless celebration. But it was Di Maria who laid the groundwork for glory, both in that game and the season as a whole.
Reports in Spain suggest Di Maria is unhappy at not being given a contract that reflects his value to Madrid. His value as a points scorer in EuroFantasyLeague is unquestioned and you can avoid the mistake of Perez by picking Di Maria in your free-to-play fantasy football line-up.
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