Angel Di Maria has revealed he consulted with Cristiano Ronaldo before completing his record transfer to Manchester United and accepting the club’s iconic number seven shirt.
Di Maria has followed in the footsteps of United legends Ronaldo, George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham by taking the number seven after his week’s British record £59.7 million ($98 million, 75 million euros) transfer from Real Madrid this week.
The Argentina midfielder joins United with the club in their worst state for more than two decades, without a win in two league games and fresh from a humiliating 4-0 League Cup defeat at third tier minnows Milton Keynes Dons on Tuesday.
But Di Maria, 26, revealed that a brief chat with his former Real team-mate Ronaldo was sufficient to convince him that he should accept the challenge of wearing the coveted number seven jersey at Old Trafford.
“I was aware of the importance of the number seven shirt. Cristiano Ronaldo had spoken to me at Real Madrid and told me how important it was,” Di Maria said at his first press conference as a United player on Thursday.
“I wanted to wear this shirt and do as much for the club as Ronaldo and the others could do. The club also wanted me to wear it so I want to live up to it.
“Manchester United have already won many trophies and are a very, very big team.
“I come to Manchester United in order to help the team raise their game and become an important team again and win many trophies with them.”
United’s current problems clearly extend beyond the addition of an attacking midfield player such as Di Maria, albeit one who was the man of the match in Real’s Champions League Final success last season.
Yet Di Maria insists the hefty price United paid for him won’t be a burden and that he has no preference where manager Louis van Gaal chooses to play him in a team that already has Juan Mata in the advanced central midfield role.
“No, it does not bother me that £60 million has been paid for me, that is something the club chairmen have to discuss between them,” he said.
“It depends on the manager where he wants to play me. I come here to work for the team and I am prepared to play in any position he wants. I just want to help the club become successful again.”
Given United’s dismal form over the last year, supporters are becoming increasingly concerned and, while van Gaal has no doubt Di Maria will make a huge impact he has warned those fans not to expect miracles.
“Maybe not in his first matches because he is now only two days with us,” said van Gaal when asked if Di Maria could have the same impact as previous number sevens have had at Old Trafford.
“He has to adapt to the qualities of the team and the team has to adapt to his qualities, but I am thinking he will indeed be a player the fans can enjoy.
“For me also it is important that he is a team player and that is what I am liking in Di Maria, not only class, he can accelerate the game for us and can also play in the interests of the team and that is why we have chosen this player.
“I hope he shall give us good results but we cannot expect after two days training that he is the miracle that I have already read about.
“No, you have to work for the miracle and he knows that.
“That is also a reason we have chosen him. When you see his answers, he is a very modest guy and he wants to work.
“He showed that also last year. He played 52 matches and gave 22 assists. How many players can say that?”