Angel Di Maria is set to join Juventus as a free agent and his former teammate Gianluigi Buffon has tipped him to have a similar impact in Serie A as Diego Maradona
Image: YOAN VALAT / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)
Angel Di Maria has been tipped to make the same impact in Serie A as Diego Maradona by Italian goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon.
Maradona, widely regarded as the greatest footballer of his generation, joined Napoli from Barcelona in 1984 and inspired the Naples club to two Serie A titles – the only occasions in which the club tasted league success.
Di Maria is poised to join Juventus as a free agent to play in Italy for the first time in his career after his contract at Paris Saint-Germain expired. His former PSG teammate Buffon – who, aged 44, is still playing with Serie B side Parma – believes the former Manchester United playmaker can make a similar impact in Italy as his compatriot Maradona did.
Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Buffon explained that Di Maria would inject much-needed technical attacking ability to the top-flight of Italian football: “Right now, Di Maria in Serie A, is like Maradona. Am I clear? ”
The goalkeeper continued: “Footballers must be valued considering the context where they play. Today, Serie A is technically poorer and Angel has so much technique.
“He is decisive in front of goal, he dribbles past his opponents so easily. He is good at delivering assists and runs up and down on the pitch. He can play in different roles. In a few words: he is a football player. ”
Have Your Say! Is Buffon right to compare Di Maria to Maradona? Tell us what you think here.
Etsuo Hara / Getty Images)
When asked if Di Maria being the advanced age of 34 would be a drawback, Buffon highlighted that he was 10 years older and still playing before adding that “age does not matter”. The goalkeeper declared that “motivation and passion” are much more important factors for longevity at the top level.
Buffon continued: “We are talking of an exemplary professional, a nice guy, one who never gives up and fights during games and training sessions. I repeat, for today’s Serie A, he’d be like Maradona. At PSG, I played with Neymar, a young Kylian Mbappe, Marco Verratti… but Di Maria was not inferior to any of them.
“When he won the Decima [10th Champions League title] Fr. [Real] Madrid in 2014, he was playing with Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. He was always a step back but knew how to play as a winger, attacking midfielder and even Mezzala. Whoever signs him, and I hope it’s Juve, makes a deal. We are talking about a champion and football needs champions. ”
Di Maria enjoyed strong attacking numbers in the French capital during his seven-year stint, having originally joined from Manchester United in 2015. Di Maria made 294 appearances for Les Parisiens, scoring 92 goals and creating 118 direct goal assists during his stay – the latter of which is a club record for one player.
The Argentine won 14 major trophies at the club, including five league titles, but is seeking new purges after the club did not offer him a contract renewal. The playmaker is believed to be in advanced talks with Juventus ahead of joining the club on a free transfer, although he is likely to be demanding a generous wage package and signing-on fee. Despite being aged 34, Di Maria is capable of operating at the top level.
Di Maria netted 82 goals across his first five seasons in the French capital and whilst his goal tally tailed off from the 2020-21 campaign, he has remained a prominent member of the squad. His move to the Parc des Princes has been viewed as a significant success following his troublesome campaign at United.
The Argentine played a prominent role in Real Madrid’s 2014 Champions League title – being named Man of the Match in the final win over Atletico Madrid – before joining United, where he never settled under then boss Louis van Gaal. Di Maria netted four goals in 32 appearances for the club before departing after a less than a year.
Di Maria has netted 177 goals across his senior career in 803 appearances, while also scoring 24 times in 121 caps for Argentina.