Manchester United has agreed to pay Real Madrid $106 million for Argentina winger Ángel Di María, breaking the previous record paid by a British club, when Chelsea signed Fernando Torres in 2011. Di María flew to Manchester earlier today and is a set to have a medical before sealing the deal and being unveiled as a United player on Tuesday.
The United press office has, so far, declined to comment on the story, but Real boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed the player visited the training ground of his current club to say goodbye to his soon to be ex-teammates. Ancelotti revealed that the club fought to keep the player, but he was adamant it was time to move on. The deal will also eclipse the $83m Chelsea paid Liverpool for Torres three-years-ago.
United boss Louis van Gaal said after the disappointing 1-1 draw with Sunderland that “the club has to announce it” when questioned about Di María’s arrival, before declining to comment further. When pushed on whether he liked Di María, he replied that he liked a lot of players, such as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, but that did not mean they were on the way to Old Trafford.
One individual who has been very vocal is former United defender and now Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, who said the World Cup star would be a good fit. “It’s good business,” he said. “United have lost their negotiation strength, but they just need to get the right players. This one is.”
If Di María does complete the deal, as he is expected to do in the next 24 hours, then United must register him with the Premier League before noon Friday if he is to have any chance of facing Burnley at the weekend. Van Gaal was unable to play his other new Argentinian signing Marcos Rojo, who is still waiting on his work permit to come through.
The news of Di María’s impending arrival will be marked with major relief at Old Trafford after what has, so far, been another disappointing summer in the transfer market. So far, United has only signed Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo. The first two are both injured, whilst Rojo is waiting for his first start. This has meant that van Gaal has had to rely on the squad members he inherited from David Moyes.
It is also understood that van Gaal wants to sign at least one more player before the transfer window closes next week, although little has been reported on who he is supposedly chasing. Van Gaal recently claimed that United needs “a miracle” to win the league, but the record-breaking deal to bring the aptly-named Ángel Di María from Real is proof that the club still harbors ambition. The famous United number seven shirt, worn by such luminaries as George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, and David Beckham, has been left vacant since Antonio Valencia traded the shirt in, due to the amount of pressure it put on his shoulders. It would appear that, in Di María, United may just have got the new heir.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd