MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United broke the British transfer-fee record by signing Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.7 million pounds ($99 million) on Tuesday, extending a summer spending spree that was sparked by its most disappointing season in a generation.
Di Maria, 26, joined on a five-year contract, taking United’s spending to about £130 million ($215 million) in the summer transfer window as England’s most successful club seeks to revive its fortunes under new manager Louis van Gaal.
“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,” Di Maria said. “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.”
Di Maria’s transfer fee breaks the previous British record of £50 million pounds (then $81 million), set in 2011 when Fernando Torres joined Chelsea from Liverpool.
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Four players — Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez — have cost more than Di Maria in world football, while Zinedine Zidane moved from Juventus to Madrid for a similar fee in euro terms in 2001.
“Angel is a world-class midfielder but most importantly he is a team player,” Van Gaal said. “There is no doubting his immense natural talent. He is a tremendously fast and incisive left-footed player who puts fear into the most accomplished defense.
“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.”
Di Maria was man of the match in last season’s Champions League final against Atletico Madrid and one of Argentina’s best players at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil until he hurt his thigh in the quarterfinal win over Belgium, forcing him to miss the semifinal and final.
He joined Real Madrid from Benfica in 2010, when he was an out-and-out winger. At Madrid last season, coach Carlo Ancelotti also played him as a central midfielder. Under contract until 2018 at Madrid, Di Maria faced increased competition in midfield following the signings of Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, and had been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
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