February 2, 2018, 11:11 am
Five months after he seemed destined to be sold off, Angel Di Maria has become one of the first names on Paris Saint-Germain's team sheet.
He has arguably been PSG's best player in recent weeks, scoring six goals in his past seven games and showing the flair that once made him one ofsoccer'smost sought-after wingers.
As January's winter transfer window shut at midnight on Wednesday, Di Maria was preparing for Saturday's French league game away to Lille. Some contrast from the final days of the summer transfer window when it seemed PSG's priority was selling him.
Qatari-owned PSG needed to sell to raise cash to balance the books, after being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules over the signings of Neymar for 222 million euros ($260 million) and teen star Kylian Mbappe for 180 million euros ($216 million).
However, a reported third offer of some 45 million euros ($56 million) from Barcelona - trying to unite Di Maria with his Argentina teammate Lionel Messi - was rebuffed.
PSG coach Unai Emery has been repaid for holding firm by Di Maria's sparking form since the turn of the year. Di Maria, who has scored 100 goals in 503 career games, is still in his peak years. He will be 30 on Feb. 14 - the day PSG is at Real Madrid in the Champions League in their round-of-16 match.
"I'm especially happy for him, he's shown great commitment to PSG," said Emery, who took charge in 2016-17 after Laurent Blanc was fired. "I've known Angel for one-and-a-half years and he's had some difficult times. I've spoken with him to help him regain his confidence and his best level."
Di Maria, who helped create two of PSG's goals in a 3-2 win away to Rennes in the League Cup semifinal on Tuesday, will hope to have done enough to start the first leg against his former club Madrid.