Angel Di Maria is angry and wants to get even. If Manchester United are the beneficiaries, then so much the better. The Argentinian's astonishing outbursts yesterday poured light on his bitter split from Real Madrid, a club he clearly resents for the way they handled his £60 million transfer to Old Trafford. Madrid's president, Florentino Perez, left Di Maria seething after suggesting the dynamic midfielder was becoming greedy and was only allowed to leave the Bernabau because of his excessive wage demands.
That prompted the Premier League's most-expensive player to hit back yesterday. He said: "I will prove my worth at Manchester United. I will become a much better player. Manchester United will benefit from that. What I like about this club is they have so much faith in me and that gives me confidence going forward. I think they know that I will give it everything on the pitch and watch Manchester United rise again."
Di Maria's anger towards his old club – which included the claim they urged him not to play in the World Cup final – was further inflamed by Perez's insistence that he would have been the second-highest paid player, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, had he stayed at Real. Perez said: "We made the best offer that we could to Di Maria and he didn't accept it. Hence, we brought in James Rodriguez, one of the best players at the World Cup and the Golden Boot award winner.
"Real has always respected contracts. Di Maria had financial requests that I considered legitimate but we couldn't satisfy them. I reiterate that we made him the best possible offer. With the exception of Cristiano Ronaldo, Di Maria would have been the highest paid at Real Madrid. Had we accepted his financial demands it would have created an unbalanced treatment that would have put the club's stability in danger."
But Di Maria responded: "I know what he said. That never happened, I never made those demands. I never asked to leave Madrid, it wasn't my decision either. No one even told me they wanted to sell me, not even my agent. I was in very good form having won the Champions' League and I was only going to improve. But they said to earn the sort of money Ronaldo is earning I would have to become a better player. I would have to win the Ballon d'Or at least once or become the best player at the World Cup. I'm not even sure why Perez said that because I didn't ask for it. I just think it is an excuse because Madrid have been criticised for selling me. Anyway, I don't know Perez. I think he is a very difficult person and I don't have a relationship with him.
The top 10 most expensive British transfers of all-time
The top 10 most expensive British transfers of all-time
1/9 Eliaquim Mangala - Manchester City (£32m), summer 2014
Yet to play a game for Manchester City, worryingly couldn't beat Laurent Koscielny or Raphael Varane for a place in the French World Cup team.
2/9 Robinho - Manchester City (£32.5m), summer 2008
An undoubted flop, Robinho arrived to great fanfare in 2008. Had one decent season before his career went spiralling from bad to worse.
3/9 Fernandinho - Manchester City (£34m), summer 2013
Only played one season for City where he started slowly but grew into his role at the club. However, he was sometimes found wanting in Europe prompting Manuel Pellegrini to spend £12m on Porto enforcer Fernando.
4/9 Alexis Sanchez - Arsenal (£35m), summer 2014
Another whose career in the Premier League is just getting started, it will take time for Sanchez to adapt to the physicality of the division. Has the potential to thrive.
5/9 Andy Carroll - Liverpool (£35m), January 2011
The Fernando Torres money may have been burning a hole in their pocket, but Liverpool should have been more cautious on the back of six months of impressive Premier League performances. Sold for half-price less than three years later after 11 goals and one League Cup.
6/9 Juan Mata - Manchester United (£37.1m), January 2014
Manchester United arguably overspent on Mata, but he has been in excellent form since his arrival with seven goals in the nine matches he's started for the club.
7/9 Mesut Ozil - Arsenal (£42.5m), summer 2013
Started well for Arsenal but still has plenty to prove. Has been accused of being a luxury player and not a match-winner, but Ozil is undoubtedly quality and should have a great year for the Gunners.
8/9 Fernando Torres - Chelsea (£50m), January 2011
Will go down as the worst transfer in British football history. In three-and-a-half years Torres failed to reach double figures in the Premier League once, and though Chelsea won plenty in his time with the club, he never produced what they wanted, or expected, for that price.
9/9 Angel Di Maria - Manchester United (£59.7m), summer 2014
He's probably not worth that much but Manchester United are desperate. Di Maria is a world class player and his presence in the midfield will give the whole squad a lift. He doesn't score many goals but he makes the players around him better.
"I have never had long dialogue with him. He was never there when we talked about my contract extension. Perhaps you should speak to Cristiano Ronaldo or Sergio Ramos, the club captains. They knew what I was asking for and they supported me. I just think it's convenient for Perez to blame me because he has been criticised so much for selling me. I think he gave that offer to another player. I don't have a clue who it is but even he admits he thought what I asked for was legitimate."
Di Maria's adviser, Eugenio Lopez was equally damning of Perez and claimed his client would have stayed at Madrid. "The idea was to wait and come to an agreement with Real Madrid in order for him to stay. He wanted to earn what they promised him and he would've stayed for much less than Manchester United is paying him.
"He signed until 2018, but he wanted to improve his deal, which is normal. They brought in Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez. That was a sign that something was wrong. But they didn't bring in James because Di Maria wanted to leave. They are very different players. Before the World Cup there was no offer from Real Madrid.
"He never asked for £6.3m per year and would've stayed for much less, even though there was a club who offered more. We started to negotiate, but Real Madrid didn't budge. I'm speaking in reference of what Florentino Perez said. [Coach Carlo] Ancelotti did everything he could to keep Di Maria."
For now, Di Maria is contemplating his future as he lives out of suitcases in a Manchester hotel. "It's all new to me, a completely different environment," he said. "It takes time to adjust at a new club. I have a lot of confidence in Louis Van Gaal. He is very direct and very clear in what he wants. I have every confidence United will rise again and be challenging for major honours."Reuse content