By Ken Ferris
Manchester United smashed the British transfer record when they signed Argentina winger Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.7 million on Tuesday.
Di Maria has signed a five-year contract, the Premier League club announced on their website (www.manutd.com), with the fee breaking the British record of £50 million Liverpool received from Chelsea for Spain striker Fernando Torres in 2011.
Di Maria 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 added: “Angel 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.”
Di Maria started out at Rosario Central with the Argentine club’s renowned youth academy and moved to Benfica in 2007.
Real paid the Portuguese club £20 million for his services in 2010 and the winger was a part of the team that won the club’s 10th European Cup last season.
However, the 26-year-old fell out of favour after the big-money signing of Colombian World Cup star James Rodriguez and was omitted from the squad for the Spanish Super Cup last week.
Di Maria, who looked strong in pre-season after suffering a thigh injury in the World Cup quarter-finals that forced him out of the tournament, turned down a new contract at the Bernabeu.
Last week Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said Di Maria had asked to leave the club.