Wayne Rooney has remarkably suggested that Angel Di Maria was the only player Louis Van Gaal allowed to dribble on the ball during his tenure at Manchester United.
Di Maria arrived as a marquee signing with huge expectations in 2014 shortly after Van Gaal’s appointment after making his name as one of the world’s best attacking players during a four-year spell at Real Madrid.
The Argentina international hit the ground running early on, scoring a memorable individual goal in a 5-3 away defeat to Leicester City.
But he never truly settled and is recognised by United fans as one of the club’s biggest flops, despite his obvious world class talent.
Di Maria has reinvented himself at PSG, and will be one of the key men in Sunday evening’s Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Lisbon.
Rooney was lavishing in his praise of his former teammate, and suggested he was given special treatment by the manager Van Gaal.
“He’s a wonderful player,” Rooney wrote in his The Sunday Times column.
“When he came to United I remember Louis van Gaal saying to the team: “He is the only one who is allowed to dribble with the ball.”
“Angel works tirelessly on the pitch and his delivery, vision and awareness is brilliant.
“He could have been a major star at United but at the time we were going through a bit of a transition and it was tough for him to settle.
“He had young kids and lived a couple of houses down from me and someone tried to burgle him. I remember that really shook him and his family.
“From then on, really, you knew it was going to be tough for him and it was probably better for him to leave.”
Van Gaal’s turgid style was one of the reasons the obstinate Dutchman was fired just a day after achieving FA Cup glory in 2016.
United’s frivolous passing football was dire to watch at times under Van Gaal and perhaps it’s easier explained now we know it was only Di Maria who was given the license to dribble!