United land Di Maria in British-record deal


London (AFP) - Manchester United announced on Tuesday that they have signed Argentina winger Angel di Maria from Real Madrid for a British-record transfer fee of £59.7 million ($98 million, 75 million euros).

The 26-year-old's move, on a five-year contract, shatters the previous British-record fee of £50 million paid by Chelsea to sign Spain striker Fernando Torres from Liverpool in 2011.

"Manchester United is delighted to announce that Angel di Maria has completed his transfer for a British-record fee of £59.7 million. Angel joins on a five-year contract," said a club statement.

United manager Louis van Gaal said: "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 said it was Van Gaal's "vision" for the English giants that had persuaded him to move to Old Trafford, even though United are not playing in Europe after their seventh-place finish in last term's Premier League.

"I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United," Di Maria said.

"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."

- Rooney 'excited' -

Di Maria, who can play as a winger or in midfield, came through one of the most celebrated youth academies in Argentinian football at home-town club Rosario Central.

In 2007, he joined Portuguese giants Benfica, where he won one league title and two League Cups before joining Real Madrid in 2010.

He won the La Liga title with Madrid in 2012 and was named man of the match after they beat city rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 in last season's Champions League final in Lisbon.

The Argentina international has scored 10 goals in 52 appearances for his country and was shortlisted for the Golden Ball at this year's World Cup despite missing the semi-final and final due to injury.

His arrival in Manchester is the headline deal of United's overhaul under new manager Van Gaal, who had already spent a combined £72 million on England left-back Luke Shaw, Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera and Di Maria's Argentina team-mate Marcos Rojo.

Di Maria could make his debut at Burnley on Saturday as Van Gaal looks to revitalise a United team still without a win after the first two games of the new Premier League campaign.

Shortly after the deal was announced, a second-string United team were humiliated 4-0 by third-division Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup.

Speaking afterwards, Van Gaal said that although Di Maria's versatility would prove useful, the 26-year-old would have to adapt quickly to his new surroundings.

"I think he shall contribute very much in our way of playing," the Dutchman told Sky Sports.

"He is a creative player. I can change the system with Di Maria because he can play on the wing and midfield. He can contribute and that is very important.

"But we don't have to expect that from tomorrow the world has been changed. He has to adapt to the culture of England, the culture of the Premier League, and the philosophy of Manchester United."

United's newly appointed captain Wayne Rooney took to Twitter to give Di Maria's arrival his personal seal of approval, writing: "Welcome to Manchester United angel di maria. #excited."

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