Angel Di Maria has made the astonishing claim that his former club Real Madrid sent him a letter urging him not to play in the World Cup final.
Di Maria was struggling with a thigh injury at the tie after limping out of Argentina’s quarter-final victory over Belgium, and he subsequently started the final defeat to Germany on the bench.
However, the British record signing admitted that he ignored Real’s request to miss the showcase match, and has also confirmed that a lack of relationship with the club’s president Florentino Perez was one reason why he sought the £59.7m move to Manchester United in the summer.
Speaking to Argentinian radio program America & Closs, Di Maria said: “I got a letter from Madrid that arrived at 11am on the day of the (World Cup final) asking me not to play.
“We were playing at 4pm and I was preparing myself to be in the best condition, knowing that I could have got injured. I was thinking about playing in the final, although I knew that if I did there was a 90 per cent chance I'd re-injure myself.
The best deals of the summer...
The best deals of the summer...
1/15 Bojan Krkic (Stoke City, forward, £4.4m)
The most unlikely move of the summer looks like it could be one of the cutest. More interesting than all of the inevitable talk about “How will a former Barcelona starlet handle himself on a wet Saturday afternoon at the Britannia?” is how Mark Hughes convinced a former Barcelona starlet to leave Rome for a series of wet Saturdays in Stoke. Bojan has cut an increasingly disappointing figure in the three years since he left Catalonia – but Hughes revitalised Oussama Assaidi last season and could do the same for the nimble-footed Spanish forward.
2/15 Bafetimbi Gomis (Swansea City, striker, free)
Swansea City have reacted shrewdly to the uncertainty surrounding the future of Wilfried Bony with the signing of the equally powerful Gomis. The Frenchman was hardly prolific during his five years at Lyon, netting at the rate of just over a goal every three games – but he offers an all-round threat not present in Bony’s game. Gomis is adept at holding the ball up and will allow Swansea the option of going long more often to complement their sometimes predictable passing game – he is a pragmatic buy with the potential to transcend lowly initial expectations.
3/15 Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle, right-back, £5m)
The quiet revolution on Tyneside continues at right-back, where Daryl Janmaat is a more than adequate replacement for Mathieu Debuchy, who was lured by Arsenal. Janmaat impressed for the Netherlands under Louis van Gaal at the recent World Cup with several displays of defensive solidity coupled with attacking prowess – indeed, he looks more secure at the back than the man he is replacing. The same caveat applied to Filipe Luis is relevant to Janmaat: the effectiveness of his displays will be measured by their lack of prominence. The early signs are promising.
4/15 Filipe Luis (Chelsea, left-back, £16m)
To suggest that Luis is an Ashley Cole clone is to damn him with faint praise and speak a measure of truth at the same time – Schrödinger’s Cat updated to fit Chelsea’s left-back problem. The Brazilian is as safe in defence as a Victorian semi-detached town house, but is ever-eager to press forward on the overlap. Great full-backs follow the maxim applied to referees: you only really notice them when they are performing badly or missing in action. Luis’s value will be revealed if Atletico Madrid struggle in his absence – and if no one mentions the name A Cole.
5/15 Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal, forward, £32m)
Sanchez is perhaps the standout signing in a summer of big-money moves at the sharp end of the Premier League. The Chile international has the pace, skill and finishing ability to play anywhere across the front line – he started on the wing in Arsenal’s Community Shield defeat of Manchester City but is expected to move to a more central role before too long, possibly replacing Olivier Giroud. Sanchez should bring the type of dynamism that Arsenal’s pretty, patterned play has often lacked over the past few seasons. Given the size of his fee, he will be expected to perform.
6/15 Diego Costa (Chelsea, striker, £33.44m)
The man viewed as Chelsea’s long-term striking solution could well turn out to be not just one of the best Premier League transfers of this summer but one of the best in the league’s history. Equally, the Brazilian has the potential to make his £33m-plus transfer fee look like the biggest debacle this side of Fernando Torres. The naturalised Spaniard flourished at Atletico Madrid in Diego Simeone’s high-energy, high-pressing system – but on occasion he can appear leaden-footed and has a fiery temperament that must be curbed. A two-goal salvo against Real Sociedad on Tuesday night hinted at the good side of the man – and his reaction to a Bruno Alves horror tackle against Fenerbahce the bad.
7/15 Romelu Lukaku (Everton, striker, £28m)
Having been on loan last season, Everton’s key signing of this transfer window already feels well at home among Goodison Park’s club-embossed armchairs. Lukaku hit 15 league goals for Roberto Martinez’s side last season as they challenged for the Champions League, only to falter at the last. More will be demanded of the Belgian now the Merseysiders have almost doubled their transfer record to make his move permanent – but Lukaku has the ability to fulfil those lofty expectations. Bullishly strong and with an unerring left boot, he can flourish now he is not tagged as the next Didier Drogba.
8/15 Lazar Markovic (Liverpool, winger, £20m)
How do you go about replacing the irreplaceable? Brendan Rodgers’ seemingly impossible task of filling the void left by Luis Suarez got off to a promising start with the signing of jet-heeled Serbian winger Markovic, who starred during Benfica’s run to last season’s Europa League final. The 20-year-old will be allowed time to settle into Premier League life, with Rodgers expected to use him from the bench in the season’s early weeks. Once he is unleashed, however, Markovic could be the season’s great surprise – he has trickery enough to delight even the most Suarez-obsessed members of the Kop.
9/15 Ander Herrera (Man United, midfield, £32m)
Leaving aside the lingering memories of the farce that was United’s pursuit of Herrera last summer, the fact that Louis van Gaal finally has the man David Moyes wanted can only be a good thing for a midfield in need of both an internal and external makeover. Despite being only 24, the playmaker is a classy and experienced operator – a veteran of European football with Athletic Bilbao, for whom he impressed against United in the Europa League in March 2012. Herrera is a significant upgrade on Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick – a player of finely spun steel for a deoxygenated midfield.
10/15 Rémy Cabella (Newcastle, midfield, £12m)
The Montpellier chairman, Louis Nicollin, mocked Cabella for his decision to move to Tyneside, telling the midfielder that he would be “bored” at his new club. It will be Alan Pardew seeing the funny side of the deal if Cabella proves a hit at Newcastle, however – and the France international has the ability to be just that. Creative and versatile, he possesses the type of Gallic skill that Newcastle fans have seen twice before with Laurent Robert and the incomparable David Ginola.
11/15 Daley Blind (Manchester United, midfield, £14m)
While United stole the headlines with their dramatic swoop to bring in Radamel Falcao in what looks a drastically expensive loan move, it was the signing of Daley Blind which could help the most given United's obvious deficiencies in midfield and defence. Blind, 24, knows Louis van Gaal and his methods well, which should prove very useful given how slowly it seems the rest of United's rearguard are getting their heads around them. And at £14million, he is the cheapest of United's senior signings.
12/15 Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea, midfield, £30m)
Another expensive acquisition, the fee this time believed to be in the region of £30million - but again, it is easy to see why the cash has been splashed. The early signs are that the Spain midfielder may be an even better player than the one who left Arsenal as a true Premier League star in 2011.
13/15 Calum Chambers (Arsenal, defence, £16m)
Not the most high-profile departure among the exodus from St Mary's over the summer, but Chambers was known to be a player of great promise and has certainly made a big impression in Arsenal's defence so far following his switch for a reported £16million, earning a first call-up to the full England squad.
14/15 Hatem ben Arfa (Hull, midfield, loan)
Steve Bruce arguably had the best deadline day of any Premier League manager as he completed something of a summer overhaul with the arrivals of Abel Hernandez, Mohamed Diame and Gaston Ramirez. But it was the late, late arrival of Newcastle outcast Hatem Ben Arfa which had the fans most excited. When his mind is right, the Frenchman is one of the most exciting attacking midfielders in the league and if Bruce can get him back on track after a frustrating year in the north east, he will give Hull a new dimension.
15/15 Mario Balotelli (Liverpool, striker, £16m)
The former Manchester City star is back in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers went ahead with a £16m move for the Italian, securing his services from AC Milan. If Liverpool can contain his livewire personality and on-field temper, it could work out to be one of the best deals in the club's history.
“As soon as I got that letter, I ripped it up. I did not care, no matter what.
“I suffered a lot that morning. That was the worst thing to ever happen in my life. I didn't speak to anyone at the club about this. It doesn't matter.
“In the end, it was (Argentina manager Alejandro) Sabella who made the decision and it was for the best.”
Di Maria released an open letter to Real fans stressing that it was not his decision to leave the European champions, but rather the addition of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez combined with the absence of Perez at his contract signing that suggested his time was up at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I never said I wanted to leave Madrid. The club decided to buy other players. I always had a great relationship with my team-mates,” Di Maria added.
“I have no relationship with Florentino Perez. When I signed my contract, he was not present.”
The winger’s exit has sparked a number of stories about the departure, including the claim from Paris Saint-Germain that he wanted to join the French champions as a preference rather than move to the Premier League.
It’s also produced a reaction from the club’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who has expressed his unhappiness with the departures of both Di Maria and experienced midfielder Xabi Alonso.
Di Maria went on to not only admit that Ronaldo had tried to persuade him to stay at the club, but question how long the Portuguese superstar will remain at the club.
“Cristiano was always on my side,” he said. “He fought for me to stay. I don't know how long he will stay at Madrid.
“I was having a good time in Spain, so the change will have its toll. I have to adapt to my new team-mates, but I hope it will be as quick as possible.
“I want to score goals and get United back to where they should be. I'm very happy to be in Manchester.”
The revelations from Di Maria come after Perez himself spoke out to defend the club’s transfer policy. Fans were angered by the sales of Di Maria and Alonso, but Perez claimed that the Real faithful always appeared to form the strongest bonds with those players who were leaving the club rather than the ones that stayed.
He also claimed that Di Maria’s wage demands were simply too much for the club to shell out, despite Real announcing record profits for the tenth straight year yesterday.
“I've been here since 2000,” Perez said. “Since then a lot of players have come and gone and my experience tells me that the ones that leave are always the best and those that arrive are always questioned.
“My first (signing) was (Zinedine) Zidane and the last (before this summer's transfer window) was (Gareth) Bale. 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. Di Maria and all of those that have left have our gratitude and respect.
“A player that is under contract and leaves is because he wants to. 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, 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.
“Di Maria left to Manchester for a fee that we considered fair and that is why the transfer was completed. We wish Di Maria the best professionally and personally.”Reuse content