Manchester United last night smashed the British transfer record to sign Angel di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.7 million.
United confirmed the signing of the Argentina winger after he completed a medical. The former Benfica player signed a five-year contract and the fee eclipses the previous British transfer record of £50m, which Chelsea paid for Fernando Torres in 2011.
It also exceeds the £37.1m sum United paid for Juan Mata in January.
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.”
The 26-year-old, who cost Real around £28m when they signed him from Benfica in 2010, is regarded as one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. His signing is a statement of intent from new manager Van Gaal too.
“Angel is a world-class midfielder but most importantly he is a team player. There is no doubting his immense natural talent,” he said. “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.”
It will be interesting to see how Van Gaal attempts to slot Di Maria into his starting XI.
The Argentine won the man of the match award for his role in Real Madrid’s victory over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final last season. He also made the most assists (17) in the Spanish league last season.
The £71m summer signing of James Rodriguez lessened Di Maria’s chances of first-team football at the Bernabeu, however, and Madrid decided to cash in on the player, whose value increased following a successful World Cup in Brazil, where he helped Argentina reach the final.
Paris St Germain were the early front runners for Di Maria’s signature, but the French champions pulled out of the race to sign the midfielder after failing to agree a fee.
United’s summer spending total now stands at over £130m following the signing of Di Maria. Marcos Rojo (£16m), Luke Shaw (£28m) and Ander Herrera (£29m) have already joined the club, and more signings are expected before the transfer window shuts on Monday night.
Meanwhile, Everton bolstered their attacking options with the signing of Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, who was a free agent after leaving Chelsea at the end of last season.
The striker, who has won 118 caps and scored a national record 56 goals for Cameroon, signed a two-year deal.