Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc has described Angel Di Maria’s performances since his move from Manchester United as “average”.
United paid £59.7million to sign Di Maria from Real Madrid in 2014 only to sell him to PSG less than a year later for £44.3million.
The 27-year-old has scored three goals and set up three more in eight appearances for the French club this season, but Blanc believes he is capable of much better.
“Di Maria’s had an average early part of the season,” Blanc told reporters on Tuesday.
“He’s aware of that and he knows he can do a lot better. He’s committed to having a great game.”
Despite Blanc’s comments, PSG captain Thiago Silva spoke out in praise of Di Maria ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League tie against the Argentina international’s former club Real Madrid.
“Di Maria has made PSG better,” Silva said. “He has great physical qualities and has a wonderful ability to provide assists as well as scoring.
“He is very important to the team.”
Both teams go into the Group A encounter at the Parc des Princes unbeaten in all competitions – and each have beaten both Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo without conceding a goal.
Still looking to capture the European title for the first time, PSG were knocked out in the quarter-finals for the third straight time last season.
“We are an ambitious club,” Silva said to Spanish sports newspaper AS. “We have a very interesting project that includes lifting the Champions League.
“It’s the club’s aim and ours as well.
“We face an important game on Wednesday and all great players wants to showcase their talent in matches like this one.”
Isco expects low-scoring game
PSG’s Brazilian defender David Luiz is sidelined with a knee injury and will be replaced by Marquinhos, who will partner Silva at the heart of defence.
“Luiz is essential for us but I know that Marquinhos has grown a lot and will be one of the best defenders in two years,” Silva said.
Real have won their last three meetings with French sides, scoring nine times and conceding no goals, but face a stern test on Wednesday.
“I’m not sure PSG have a weak point,” Real Madrid midfielder Isco said on his club’s official website. “They are a very good side, very strong and complete, but they’re going to be up against a Real Madrid team with plenty of strengths and a forward line that is very hard to deal with.
“We’re confident about getting a good result.
“I reckon it will be a low-scoring game but I hope it’s us who get the few goals.”
The Spanish giants, coached by Rafa Benitez, welcome back defender Sergio Ramos and midfielder Luka Modric from injury.
However, Wales forward Gareth Bale sustained an aggravated calf problem during Real’s 3-0 win over Levante at the weekend and has joined injured players Pepe, Dani Carvajal, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema on the sidelines.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real’s all-time top scorer, will lead his team’s attack, looking to add to his impressive five-goal tally in the competition so far.
PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic goes into the midweek contest also in great form.
The former Barcelona forward scored a consecutive brace in Ligue 1 to guide PSG to a 2-0 triumph at Bastia on Saturday.
Salvatore Sirigu is expected to start in goal for the hosts despite German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp having shaken off a thigh injury.
Italian midfielder Marco Verratti is also fit after recovering from a calf injury while Di Maria and Motta, who rested on Saturday, will start.