The 27-year-old joined PSG on Thursday, ending his time at Old Trafford less than a year after arriving. Louis van Gaal signed the player for £59.7 million last summer, but he left for around £45 million this week. This loss comes after he assisted ten goals but scored just four in his only campaign at the club, and was replaced by Ashley Young in the starting XI by the end of the season.
Henry thinks this was always going to happen, as the player doesn’t fit in to manager Louis van Gaal’s strict philosophy. The Argentina international is actually known for his hard-working approach, but doesn’t conform to usual formations.
“Louis van Gaal demands his teams to play a certain way,” Henry said, “It’s very demanding and well structured. If you’re a winger you have to stay wide, you can’t come in, you have to stay there. I know that exactly, because at Barcelona it was the same way, the Dutch way and the Barca way are very similar.
“From what I understand, that’s why it was difficult for Di Maria to adapt, because he’s a free spirit. You have to let him play and that’s how it was for him at Real Madrid; sometimes he played behind the striker, sometimes on the left or on the right, and sometimes he didn’t come back. You can’t do that at Manchester United, it’s too well structured.”
He continued: “At one point last season, they didn’t gel, so Van Gaal did something to make sure they were going to get results until the end of the season – they were more direct. That’s why he went on to buy players this summer that can suit the way he wants to play – that’s why he wants Pedro. Pedro knows those tactics, he can do what Van Gaal wants. I’ve seen him at Barcelona, he was putting pressure on and staying out wide – he has it.
“It’s the same with [summer signing Bastian] Schweinsteiger – Van Gaal knows that if he asks Schweinsteiger to do something, he’ll do it.”
Now that United have lost their record signing they are going to have bring in a replacement. Barcelona ace Pedro has been strongly linked with Old Trafford [Daily Star], and could now make the move across.