Few Real Madrid players have frustrated fans more over the last year than Angel di Maria.
The young winger at times looks like an elite player, but then turns around and has a string of poor games that are unworthy of the historic white jersey.
His form over the last year has been rather mediocre, and Real Madrid are well-known for their relative unwillingness to stick with players who fail to maintain top form for extended periods.
Does Angel di Maria still have a future with Los Merengues, or will the club sell before the end of the six-year contract he signed last August?
Di Maria was Jose Mourinho's first signing after moving to the Spanish capital after the club decided to spend an incredible €25 million to lure him from Benfica with another €11 million in incentives.
While the Portuguese manager has always shown faith in the South American, his patience seems to be wearing thin.
According to Marca, Mourinho recently lashed out at the 24-year-old with the following comment:
"You aren't playing at all. You played better when you were earning less money. Since you've signed a new deal, you've hardly played."
In response, the Argentinian had an absolute monster of a match against Valencia, helping Madrid to a 5-0 route with two goals and another assist.
However, his characteristic inconsistencies showed up clearly over the next week.
Just three days after the two-goal match, Di Maria he was sent off in the Copa del Rey match against Los Che after a fairly average showing and then had another solid showing against Getafe.
The South American's play over the last month perfectly embodies the most frustrating aspects of his game.
Far Too Inconsistent to be Considered Elite
The first half of the 2011-2012 La Liga season saw Di Maria in the form of his life at times.
In the span of just two months, the pacey winger managed 10 league assists and was on pace to break Xavi's record of 20 in a single season before getting injured.
However, many fans seem to forget how much Di Maria struggled from the start of the season until mid-October.
Before going on that tear, the winger often struggled to stay in games and keep his temper. Too often he wasted shots or got himself in trouble with incessant diving.
When he finally got returned to the team in April, the Argentinian was never the same as he was for those two phenomenal months.
He rarely played even close to his best and even dragged his teammates down at times with his selfish play, especially Mesut Ozil.
This campaign has been no different with the former Benfica star being one of the worst performers on the team despite getting plenty of time to get on track.
Madridistas were ecstatic with his game against Valencia, but that came against a weakened defense with no true left-back.
More importantly, it was one great game among other countless duds.
Di Maria: Not Quite a Galactico
Real Madrid have reined in their early 2000s Los Galacticos policy a small bit, but it would simply be dishonest to say that the club no longer goes after big stars to improve the team a bit too quickly.
Last summer's big signing, Luka Modric, is a perfect example of this. Despite having no real need for him and despite having holes on defense, the club spent big for another big star.
At the time of his signing, the Argentine was a blossoming young star, but he was not an established star and is still not quite world class.
Madrid to get a 'Bale-Out'?
One player that certainly would fit that mold of big-named stars would be Gareth Bale. The Welsh winger is one of the top young midfielders in Europe and has huge upside.
He may be a bit overrated as a Premier League player, but his presumed fee alone puts him in that group of superstars.
It just so happens that Los Merengues have been linked with the Tottenham star.
Many Madridistas rightly question whether or not Bale actually fits in with Madrid's style of play or even their formation, but fans of the first Galacticos era will remember that such problems have never stopped the club from big signings.
Bale would likely move Ronaldo out right or in the hole, but the bigger problem would be finding a place for Angel di Maria.
If Bale does make the proposed move, either he, Ozil or Ronaldo would have to move into Di Maria's spot on the right wing.
As great as Di Maria can be, Los Merengues would probably not pay for Gareth Bale just to send him to the bench.
Di Maria should certainly be worried about his place on the team if the Welshman makes the move to Spain.
The Argentine continues to show glimpses of being one of the premier wingers in football, but those glimpses are too infrequent for an elite club like Madrid.
The problem is that he cannot seem to maintain that form for even half a season. He remains far too selfish and rarely plays his best football in big games.
The Bale transfer may or may not happen, and at this point discussion is strictly theoretical.
But if Di Maria does not improve greatly over the next few months, he could find himself replaced or benched by next August.
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