Abject United need Di Maria boost

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iol spt aug25 Di Maria REUTERS Manchester United hope Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria will fly to their rescue today after another dispiriting afternoon of Barclays Premier League football at Sunderland. Picture: Ivan Alvarado

Manchester United hope Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria will fly to their rescue today after another dispiriting afternoon of Barclays Premier League football at Sunderland.

United are desperate for new players and last night they were in discussions with the Spanish giants over the details of the 26-year-old’s transfer, with Real trying to edge a proposed £68million transfer closer to the £75m mark at the last minute.

However, both clubs have a firm desire to get the deal done and Di Maria has already said his goodbyes at the Bernabeu. He hopes to arrive in the North-West today or tomorrow if talks are concluded to put his name to a British record transfer that will finally bring some light to United’s gloomy early season.

Yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland leaves Louis van Gaal’s team with one point from two games and the scale of the challenge facing the Dutch veteran is clear.Van Gaal said: ‘The players are disappointed because we thought we would win — but still we have one point. That is not good enough for Manchester United.

‘I thought we lost a lot of balls in situations that I would not expect. When you lose a lot of balls you have to run after the ball also to win it back. You are not in the match. That was the first half. In the second half we were dominating but you need creative passing in the last third and that was also not so good. We were dominating without creating chances and that is the purpose of the game. That is disappointing. In USA on tour it (confidence) was much better than now. We have to improve, but that takes time.’

United thought they had agreed a deal with Real for Di Maria on Saturday night, with the European champions accepting a 75m Euros (£60m) down-payment with a further 10m Euros (£8m) to add on depending on Di Maria’s success at Old Trafford.However, Real were yesterday trying to move that fee higher in a game of brinkmanship that both sides — and Di Maria himself — hope will not scupper the deal.

Suggestions that Manchester City are trying to get involved are untrue. The Premier League champions were offered the opportunity to bid last week and declined, despite their admiration for the player.

Di Maria has told friends and team-mates that he will be moving to Old Trafford this week. He said his goodbyes at training in Madrid yesterday and it remains to be seen if United can close the transfer today.

Yesterday Van Gaal — without injured new signings Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera — said: ‘When a transfer has been finished, then we can say something. But now, you have to wait and see. If the moment is there then we will announce it. But we are a big club. We have seven injured and now Chris Smalling (forced off with a groin strain in the first half) makes eight, so you always need players.’

Ashley Young was booked for diving in the second half when he went down under a challenge from Wes Brown. Van Gaal, however, was adamant his player had not dived, as he said: ‘Normally it is a penalty. He has been touched by the opponent in the 16-metre area and when it happens like that there are referees who are whistling. It is a risk by that (defending) player.’From Sunderland, who are tracking Lille’s former Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou, there was sympathy from manager Gus Poyet, who still believes United will finish in the top four. ‘They’re good enough to finish in the top four,’ said Poyet. ‘Marcos Rojo will be there and they are going to spend more.’ – Daily Mail


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