Angel Di Maria: Profile of £59.7m Manchester United signing

The Argentina international is moving to the Premier League from Real Madrid

Click to follow
The Independent Football

At £59.7m, Angel Di Maria will become the record British transfer - surpassing the £50m Chelsea paid Liverpool for Fernando Torres.

For a Manchester United side desperately in need of a confidence boost coupled with a kick-start to get their season going, they will be desperate that the move for Di Maria works out better than the one for Torres.

The fee represents a huge profit for Real Madrid, who paid Benfica £20m for the winger in 2010. Only four players have cost more than him in history - Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Luis Suarez - players at the very peak of the game.

So will Manchester United be getting one of the very best players in football?

Since joining Real Madrid, he's been a regular in the side, making over 30 league appearances a season in three of the four years he has spent at Real Madrid - no mean feat in a squad made up of so many quality players.

Angel Di Maria at the World Cup


However, United should not expect a spectacular goal return. Di Maria has never reached double figures in the league during his time at Real Madrid whilst he has a total of eight Champions League goals over the four years.

It is his assists that Louis van Gaal will be seeking, with the pace of the Rosario born player providing the platform for him to create opportunities. However, for a wide player, his final ball is not always as consistent as perhaps it should be.

Di Maria adds traditional old-school dribbling with jet-heeled pace complemented by an eye for a pass and an eye for an assist, not just head-down surging down the field to improve position. He is a player who can last the distance, too, with his energy and stamina a key part of his play. Di Maria will certainly be an exciting player to watch.

Following the arrival of Gareth Bale last summer it seemed likely Di Maria would move on, but while Mesut Ozil headed for the exit, the Argentine opted to stay and fight for his place. The resilience shown was to prove the right decision, with the winger showing the best form of his career and ending the campaign by being named man-of-the-match in Real Madrid's victorious Champions League final ahead of the likes of Bale and Cristiano Ronalo.

Di Maria has played, and shone, at wing-back and as an outright winger for Benfica and hometown club Rosario Central but it was as part of a three-man midfield in that he really rose to the occasion with Los Blancos last season.

He often took the game by the scruff of the neck for Madrid and to do that he needs to be central to all the play. An example was last season's El Clasico defeat against Barcelona, where Madrid were trailing to an early Andres Iniesta goal but Di Maria hauled his team back on to their feet and provided both assists for Karim Benzema to score and turn the game on its head. He did that centrally and that wasn't an exception.

It is not just hid attacking qualities that are set to benefit United, however. Di Maria's experience at playing at the back has meant he contributes defensively, too. He can play box-to-box and has the energy to do so from the first minute to the last such is his impressive engine. He can be creating an opportunity for his teammates one minute and then helping them at out at the back the next. This also makes him the perfect player in a counter-attacking team, breaking up the play at the back before surging forward to start a penetrating attack.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria


He is also not without his faults. Di Maria wants regular first-team football and if Van Gaal does not provide that, the player could soon become unhappy. He showed his discontent at being substituted in a Copa del Rey match against Olimpic de Xativa last season by refusing to shake Carlo Ancelotti's hand and storming down the tunnel as Madrid limped to a 0-0 draw against lower-division opposition. He also caused controversy by allegedly holding his crotch when hauled off against Celta Vigo in the league in January, a gesture he denied as being against the fans, some of whom jeered his departure, or his manager.

He is a player infamous with 'milking' a tackle, something he may get away with in Spain but something that will not go down well with supporters in the Premier League. He was not always loved at Madrid, but he made sure he was with his performances before he left.

The positives far outweigh those negatives. United may not only have a superb team player in their ranks, they will have a player who can lift others around him when things are not going to plan. His individual qualities mean he can quickly change the flow of the game in his side's favour and that's exactly what Van Gaal needs this season after collecting just a point from a possible six in his first two competitive fixtures.

A British record transfer fee could heap pressure on the 52-time capped Argentina international but he has already showed he can handle anything that is thrown at him. When he arrived at Portugal giants Benfica from Argentina, president Luís Filipe Vieira said he will be the perfect replacement for departing captain Simão, who secured legendary status during his five seasons in Lisbon. Undeterred, Di Maria proved him right with some star performances that quickly warmed him to the home support - and to Real Madrid.