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Big guns looking to net Di Maria

Andres Miranda, a representative of the Argentinean international, has told the Portuguese press that talks were ongoing with a host of top sides with a view to sealing a big money move for the 22-year-old. 

“All the great clubs of Europe want Di María. We are talking with several clubs, but there is still nothing concrete," Miranda explained.

Tthe agent later went on to explain to A Bola that talks of a deal being in place with Spanish giants Real Madrid were wide of the mark.

Di Maria’s performances over the past 18 months have attracted the attention of several of Europe’s top sides, with Premier League trio Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all believed to be among the interested parties.

The diminutive winger has been an integral part of a Benfica side still celebrating winning their first league title since 2005, with the club also reaching the Europa League quarter-finals where they were eventually felled by Premier League side Liverpool following a Fernando Torres-inspired 4-1 rout at Anfield.

But despite his impressive form, Benfica are thought to be willing to accept a bid of €25 million for the player they signed at 19-years-old in a €6 million deal from Argentine side Rosario Central in 2007.

Chelsea could see Di Maria as a possible replacement for England international Joe Cole, who is out of contract this summer and yet to sign a new deal at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, is said to be interested in taking the seven-times capped Argentinean international to Old Trafford as a long term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Yet it could be Arsene Wenger who is in poll position in the race to sign Di Maria, with the Argentinean previously revealing his disappointment at missing out on a move to Emirates Stadium three years ago.

The playmaker admitted that he was all set to join the Gunners in 2007, before the deal fell through allowing him to sign for Benfica.

“I don’t know exactly what happened with my proposed transfer to Arsenal," he said in the News of the World, adding; “I was very excited about joining them but it never happened.

“From what I’ve been told, the transfer money that was supposed to appear, never appeared and just a day-and-a-half later, Benfica heard about the problem, showed interest in me and quickly hired me.

“But I am sure that Arsene Wenger would have had a lot to teach me.”

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Gary Parkinson is a freelance writer, editor, trainer, muso, singer, actor and coach. He spent 14 years at FourFourTwo as the Global Digital Editor and continues to regularly contribute to the magazine and website, including major features on Euro 96, Subbuteo, Robert Maxwell and the inside story of Liverpool's 1990 title win. He is also a Bolton Wanderers fan.