Juventus managed to beat Nantes 3-0 in the second leg of the Europa League knockout round playoff (live on Paramount+) to advance to the round of 16 thanks in large part to one man on a complete tear. After drawing 1-1 in the first leg in Turin a week ago, it was an Angel Di Maria hat trick that gave the Bianconeri an important win that certified once again the importance of the Argentinian star for this club. After a difficult start to the season, when his performances and game time were deeply affected by injuries, he's now fully part of the rotation and making the most of it with stunning recent form, riding the wave of winning the 2022 World Cup with Argentina. Now, it's time for Juve to lock him up.
I mean, just look at this:
ÁNGEL DI MARÍA STOP THAT. 😳 pic.twitter.com/NgYfrwUJLf— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) February 23, 2023
Di Maria arrived at Juventus just last summer as a free agent after he didn't extend his agreement with Paris Saint-Germain. The talks between the Italian club and the player lasted for more than a month, and the winger was a bit undecided about his imminent future. Di Maria was looking for a short-term solution at age 35 that could guarantee him game time considering that his main goal was to play in the 2022 World Cup. He did just that, scoring in the final victory over France while also drawing a penalty kick that Lionel Messi would score.
The former Real Madrid player had two options on the table -- playing for Juventus or playing in Argentina, but he finally decided to sign for the Italian club on July 8. Despite the Italian club offering him a two-year deal, he ended up signing on just for one season.
Massimiliano Allegri's team switched multiple tactical systems this season, trying to find their identity through their way, and they may have found it. Di Maria was affected by these changes and played in different positions. When Juventus played with a 4-4-2, Allegri wanted the Argentinian to play as a striker. Later during the season, Allegri switched his system to a 3-5-2 and his way of playing changed a bit with different tasks, especially when Juventus were not keeping the ball and were defending. Di Maria adapted well, but now that he's back in form, he's delivering because he's fitter and his movement is much more fluid. Until now he has scored seven goals in 20 games and provided six assists as well to his teammates. Six of his goals and two of his assists have come in the last 10 games.
Due to the struggles of Juventus this season, Massimiliano Allegri needs a player like Di Maria, not only because of his technical qualities but also because he embraces what the Bianconeri are looking for. They could be at risk of losing him as he could sign a pre-contract with any club now.
At the end of the day, he knows how to win trophies, he has the experience that many other teammates don't have and most importantly, he's one of the best players on the roster. Juventus' road to their greatness is still a long ways away, but players like him make things much easier. This is why Juventus should start to speak soon about a potential new contract for the Argentinian striker, before it is too late. Juventus need him to stay, and the game against Nantes showed why.