Manchester United have been dealt a major blow in their pursuit of Ángel Di María after Paris Saint-Germain emerged as favorites to sign the winger. The Argentina and Real Madrid was said reportedly close to signing for United but now the French champions have look like winning the chase in what is a major twist in the saga.
Di María is currently preparing with his Argentina teammates for the World Cup final against Germany later today. However, he is in a race to be fit for the game having suffered a tear in his thigh during the quarter-final victory over Belgium. He said before the tournament that he asked his agent to refrain from telling him anything about approaches from clubs as he wished to focus on the World Cup.
United, who were expected to win the player’s signature after the World Cup, have now fallen behind in the race after PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi met with Real President Florentino Pérez in Madrid to thrash out a deal. Real are also said to be angered by the fact United has opened negotiations with Di María’s representatives without making any formal approach to his club. Although United and Real have had a solid relationship for decades – United have sold a number of players to the Spanish club over the years – relations have strained in recent times following Real’s relentless pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The news of the major twist in the chase to sign Di María will come as another major blow to United coach Louis van Gaal, who looks like he is set to miss out on signing fellow Dutchman Stefan de Vrij from Feyenoord – the defender is said to be prefer a move to Lazio in Serie A. Van Gaal is said to be “fuming” after the pair had a verbal agreement to work together at Old Trafford next season.
If United do fail to sign Di María, van Gaal will double his efforts to sign Juventus and Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal. Although they are very different players, van Gaal is keen to sign a marquee player in his first season in the Old Trafford hot seat. Van Gaal has confirmed he will skip taking a holiday and will instead arrive in Manchester on Wednesday before flying out to the United States for the Red Devils’ tour of the country. One of his first jobs will be to prepare a bid to rival that of PSG for the services of Di María.
Van Gaal is also said to be keen on signing Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, but the German club’s manager Jürgen Klopp has maintained he does not want to lose any other key players following the loss of Robert Lewandowski to champion Bayern Munich. If United are to succeed in signing the Germany international, it will take some serious negotiations with the player and his club after he was offered a lucrative new deal to stay with the Bundesliga club.
With just a few weeks until the start of the new Premier League season, van Gaal will want to have finished United’s pre-season friendlies with all of his targets signed up. The major twist in the Di María chase will only spur him on.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd