Di Maria completes United switch

LONDON - Ángel di María said Manchester United were the “only club” for which he would have left Real Madrid as the 26-year-old completed a £59.7m British record transfer, signing a five-year contract worth around £200,000 a week.

With the Argentinian secured United will step up their attempt to sign a midfielder and, possibly, a defender in the closing days of the transfer window. Juventus’s Arturo Vidal, Milan’s Nigel de Jong and Ajax’s Daley Blind, who is also a left-sided defensive player, are potential targets.

If a midfielder and a defender are acquired by 1 September then Louis van Gaal will consider United’s summer in the market almost a success. The one caveat is that the Dutchman wished to have finished strengthening the squad before the start of the season.

United hope to confirm Di María’s work permit in time for Saturday’s match at Burnley. If granted – and that should be a formality with his status as an Argentina international – he should be selected for the match-day squad at Turf Moor and could make a full debut.

After completing a medical and the requisite paperwork on Tuesday to seal the deal, Di María said: “I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Spain and there were a lot of clubs interested in me, but United is the only club that I would have left Real Madrid for.

“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.”

Van Gaal, whose side have dropped five points in their two matches, said: “Ángel is a world-class midfielder but most importantly he is a team player. There is no doubting his immense natural talent. 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.”

The deal, which overtakes the £50m paid to Liverpool by Chelsea for Fernando Torres in January 2011 as the highest paid by a British club, takes United’s summer spend to £130.7m, following the £27m spent on Luke Shaw, the £28m for Ander Herrera and £16m for Marcos Rojo.

The acquisition of Di María is vindication for Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman. During United’s pre-season tour of America in July, Woodward stated Van Gaal was free to break the world record transfer of £86m paid by Real for Gareth Bale, saying: “It’s difficult to deal in hypotheticals based on lots of different things. The reality is that we’re not afraid of spending significant amounts of money in the transfer market.

“Whether it’s a record or not doesn’t really resonate with us. What resonates is an elite player that the manager wants who is going to be a star for Manchester United.

The price for Di Maria makes him the world’s sixth most expensive player, behind Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo (£80m), Luis Suárez (£75m), Neymar (£71m), and James Rodríguez (£63m).

Yet the capture of Di María, who was the man of the match when Real won a 10th Champions League in May, represents something a coup for United considering the club are not in Europe’s premier club competition and need to strengthen their squad after the team have let five points slip from the first two matches. – The Guardian

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