Ángel di María was set to become a Manchester United player after the club agreed a British record transfer fee of £60m (Shs259b) to buy him from Real Madrid, with the 20-times champions hoping to announce his transfer officially late yesterday or today morning.
The deal would take the club’s summer spend to £130.7m, with United still intent on adding further signings before 1 September. Juventus’s Arturo Vidal, Milan’s Nigel de Jong and Ajax’s Daley Blind are all prospective targets as clubs enter the final week of the summer window.
Louis van Gaal wants to add at least one central midfielder plus another central defender, with Vidal considered his priority. With the manager having harboured doubts about the Chilean midfielder’s knee injury that caused him to play at Brazil 2014 in a half-fit condition, plus the club’s awareness that Juventus are minded to sell, the strategy will be to try to force Vidal’s sale through for an acceptable price before 1 September.
The capture of Di María, who was the man of the match when Real won the Champions League in May, represents a coup for United considering the club are not in this season’s premier competition and need to strengthen their squad after the team have let five points slip from the first two matches.
Van Gaal said he needs more creativity in the team after Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were starved of chances during the 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Sunday.
Di María should help solve this problem. Last season in La Liga he provided 17 assists, four more than any other player, while at the World Cup, before he became injured, the forward made 32 attempts to cross from open play, three more than Marcos Rojo, his international and prospective new club team-mate.
Negotiations moved fast on Monday with the haggling over his price – Real were reported to want around £75m – and discussions over Di María’s personal terms running smoothly enough for the player to change plans and fly into Manchester late on Monday evening before being driven to United’s Carrington training base.
Unlike Juan Mata’s £37.1m transfer from Chelsea in January, this time United dealt directly with Real, allowing the two clubs to come to an agreement, with Di María’s medical and personal terms considered a formality.
For the Mata deal, third parties were deployed by United, including the No10’s father and a Madrid-based agent who previously acted for Real, as when Steve McManaman moved from Liverpool to the Spanish club.