Angel Di Maria: Manchester United sign Argentine winger in British record £59.7m deal
Manager Louis van Gaal hails 'an excellent addition to the team,' while the player himself 'cannot wait to get started'
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal tonight declared that the club's new British record fee signing Angel di Maria would allow the club to begin striking fear into opposition defences once again.
United declared that the agreed fee for Di Maria was £59.7m though sources at Real Madrid indicated that with add ons the figure would rise to by a further €9m (£7.1m) to £66.8m.
The club announced shortly before the side kicked off their first League Cup second round match since 1995, at Milton Keynes, that image rights and personal terms had been agreed, making di Maria a United player.
Van Gaal said: “He is a tremendously fast and incisive left-footed player who puts fear into the most accomplished defence. His dribbling skills and his ability to take on and beat opponents are a joy to watch. He is an excellent addition to the team.”
Di Maria claimed that United were “the only club that I would have left Real Madrid for” – a remarkable statement, considering that he was the outstanding player in last season’s Champions League final and United are not even in this season’s Europa League competition. Wages can have that kind of effect on a player. The Argentine will command around £200,000-a-week, with the package probably taking him closer to Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney’s £240,000-a week than that.
The transfer fee is also a reflection of United’s desperation to rediscover the offensive threat they have lacked since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Desperate times require desperate measures. Di Maria’s temperament, versatility and performances last season leave little doubt that the new United no 7 will make a big difference to the side.
The 26-year-old claimed that van Gaal's presence at United had been instrumental to his move. “Louis van Gaal is a fantastic coach with a proven track record of success and I am impressed by the vision and determination everyone has to get this club back to the top - where it belongs. I now just cannot wait to get started.”
Di Maria is a willing defender as well as a fearsome offensive operator, so he could operate as a left wing back in 3-4-1-2. But a reluctance to deploy Britain's most expensive player out of position could well mean van Gaal relinquishing his new system for a 4-3-3, meaning that Juan Mata's No 10 role disappears - though the Dutchman actually believes Mata is best deployed there. In a 4-3-3, di Maria he could play in any one of the four non-central positions, though the most feasible is on the left hand side of the middle line, with Mata and Rooney either side of Van Persie up ahead. Alternatively, he could operate on either side of a three-man line in a 4-2-3-1.
Ryan Giggs and Louis van Gaal look less than happy on the bench at Sunderland
Van Gaal added: “Angel is a world-class midfielder but most importantly he is a team player. There is no doubting his immense natural talent.” The player is expected to be presented as a United player on Friday and to be registered in time for face Burnley on Saturday lunchtime.
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