Angel Di Maria said Manchester United were “the only club” he would have left European champions Real Madrid for after completing a British record £59.7million transfer on this day in 2014.
Argentina international Di Maria signed a five-year contract and was handed the number seven shirt previously worn by club greats George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The substantial fee eclipsed the £50m Chelsea paid Liverpool for striker Fernando Torres in 2011.
Di Maria also became the sixth most expensive player in the world, topped only by Real Madrid signings Gareth Bale, Portuguese Ronaldo and James Rodriguez and Barcelona pair Luis Suarez and Neymar.
He arrived at Old Trafford on the back of helping his country reach the World Cup final in Brazil, where they were narrowly beaten by Germany after extra-time, and a man-of-the-match performance in Real’s Champions League final win over city rivals Atletico Madrid.
Big-spending United boss Louis Van Gaal also brought in Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Radamel Falaco, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind that summer.
The experienced Dutchman – who had recently been appointed following the unsuccessful reign of Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor David Moyes – described Di Maria as “world class”.
Yet the high-profile signing struggled to live up to that billing during an underwhelming single-season stay in the Premier League.
He made an encouraging start – scoring three times in his first five top-flight outings – but then failed to register again in his final 22 league appearances as United finished fourth.
In his defence, the player did supply 10 Premier League assists and was far from being the only Van Gaal signing to disappoint.
United’s all-time leading scorer Wayne Rooney recently suggested family circumstances and the burgling of Di Maria’s Cheshire home were major factors in his former team-mate’s failure to adapt.
The 20-time English champions took a hit of around £15m on Di Maria when he was sold to French club Paris St Germain for £44.3m in August 2015.
Formerly a league champion with both Benfica and Real, the 33-year-old has remained with PSG ever since, lifting four Ligue 1 titles and finishing as runners-up in last season’s Champions League final.
He has also scored 21 goals in 111 caps on the international stage.
Van Gaal’s Old Trafford stay lasted just a season longer. Despite winning the FA Cup, he was sacked by United in 2016 after the club missed out on Champions League qualification.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.