Angel Di Maria will provide an ailing Manchester United with plenty of missing qualities following his big-money move from Real Madrid — pace, energy, incisiveness and goals.
Just don’t expect instant miracles from the Argentina midfielder.
“I hope he shall give us good results,” Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said at Di Maria’s official presentation on Thursday, “but we cannot expect after two days’ training that he is the miracle what I already read.
“No, you have to work for the miracle and he knows that.”
At its lowest ebb since the late 1980s, United is attempting to buy its way out of trouble with Di Maria’s arrival for 59.7 million pounds ($99-million) taking the 20-time English champions’ spending to about 130 million pounds ($215-million).
And investment is definitely required.
After missing out on European football this season with a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Premier League in May, United slumped to a 4-0 loss to third-tier club MK Dons in the League Cup on Tuesday — one of the most embarrassing results in its history.
Such is the prestige and history of United that it was still able to attract one of the world’s top players in Di Maria, who helped Madrid become European champion for a 10th time last season.
That’s the level Di Maria hopes he will soon be returning to with United.
“I come to Manchester United in order to help the team raise their game and become an important team again,” Di Maria said through a translator.
Before his presentation, a highlight reel was played of Di Maria’s best moments during Madrid’s two legs against United in the Champions League two seasons ago. There was the whipped cross for Cristiano Ronaldo’s headed goal. A piece of skill to evade Phil Jones. A dribble around Patrice Evra before unleashing a fierce shot that flew just wide.
But the most obvious quality on show was his work rate and relentless energy from midfield.
“It is important that he is a team player and that is what I’m liking in Di Maria,” Van Gaal said. “Not only class — he can accelerate the game for us — but he can also play in the interests of the team and that is why we have chosen for this player.
“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? Twenty-two assists. Then you are also a very social being and in the football world, that is also the case.”
Di Maria’s debut is likely to come at Burnley on Saturday, when United goes looking for a first win of the Premier League season after losing to Swansea and drawing at Sunderland.
He will be wearing the iconic No. 7 shirt previously donned by club greats Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, George Best and Eric Cantona.
Instead of providing added pressure, that simply gives Di Maria added pride.
“I was aware of the importance of the No. 7 shirt, Cristiano Ronaldo had spoken to me at Real Madrid and told me how important it was,” Di Maria said. “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.”
Van Gaal also hinted that there will be plenty of comings and goings in United’s squad before the transfer window shuts on Monday.
“I had a conversation after lunch with the players and I said maybe after this weekend, we shall have another group because players shall go away and others shall come in,” the Dutchman said.