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Di Maria: Ronaldo inspired me to wear No.7

ESPN staff
August 28, 2014 « LIVE - Transfer deadline day | Day 6: Maria Ho eliminated, 68 left »
Angel Di Maria was unveiled at Old Trafford on Thursday © PA Photos
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Angel Di Maria has revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo urged him to wear his former No.7 shirt at Manchester United.

Di Maria was officially unveiled at Old Trafford on Thursday afternoon, having completed his British-record £59.7 million move from Real Madrid to United on Tuesday.

"I am aware of importance of the No.7 shirt," Di Maria said through a translator. "Cristiano Ronaldo had spoken to me at Real Madrid and told me how important it was.

"I wanted to wear it and to be able to do as much for the club as Ronaldo and all the others [who have worn it].

United's No.7s

Angel Di Maria joined United for £59.7m © Getty Images
  • Angel Di Maria is in some pretty stellar company as the new owner of the Manchester United No.7 shirt - but there have also been a few who have hardly graced the shirt.
  • THE GOOD: Cristiano Ronaldo - Made 84 goals in 196 appearances, winning three titles and the Champions League in 2008
  • David Beckham - A member of the famed 'Class of '92', Beckham was an integral part of United's historic treble success in 1999
  • Eric Cantona - Remains an Old Trafford icon, helping United land four titles in five years with two league and FA Cup doubles
  • Bryan Robson - The longest serving captain in the club's history, Robson led United to their first Premier League title in 1992-93
  • George Best - Although he also wore the 8, 10 and 11 shirts at United with numbers assigned to positions in those days, the Northern Irishman wore the iconic No.7 shirt for the 1968 European Cup triumph
  • THE BAD: Michael Owen - Not many United fans would have pegged Owen to inherit the No.7 when Ronaldo left for Real Madrid. He did little to change their minds with 17 goals in 52 league appearances
  • THE UGLY: Antonio Valencia - While he has been far from a flop at United, Valencia ditched the No.7 after just one year when he took it in 2012, reverting to his old No.25 having endured his worst season
  • Nick Atkin

"It does not bother me that £60m has been paid for me. I come here to work and play for the club and to do the best I can for Manchester United."

Di Maria is set to make his United debut against Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday, and has immediately targeted a top-four finish this season.

"I'm very pleased to play for Manchester United," Di Maria said through a translator. "I want to hep the team get into the Champions League."

Di Maria arrives at Old Trafford following a dismal start to the season that has seen United take one point from their opening two Premier League games, before being humiliated 4-0 at MK Dons in the League Cup.

However, Louis van Gaal has warned United fans that Di Maria won't provide a quick-fix for the club's current woes.

"He's a class player," Van Gaal told a news conference. "But we cannot expect he is the miracle after two days' training.

"Maybe not in his first matches because he is now two days with us, or two days he trained with the team. He has to adapt to the qualities of the team and the team has to adapt to his qualities but I am thinking he will indeed be a player the fans can enjoy."

The United manager had hinted after Tuesday's defeat that he could ditch his 3-5-2 system in order to accommodate Di Maria, and has now suggested Di Maria may be employed in a midfield role instead of out wide.

"I only buy players that can improve our philosophy," said Van Gaal. "He can accelerate our play and our style of play but he fits in our philosophy.

"What he can do more than fit in our philosophy is I can change the system for him and maybe I shall do that in the future, like I have already done [at half-time] against Swansea City.

"He played in Real Madrid not only as a wide wing player but also in midfield so that is also a reason why we are convinced he shall succeed.

"When you see his answers, he is a very modest guy and he wants to work. In every sentence, he is coming with this. He showed that also last year. He played 52 matches and gave 22 assists. How many players can say that?

"I am very pleased that we can have such a class player in our squad. You have many class players but for me also it is important that he is a team player and that is what I am liking in Di Maria: not only class, but he can also play in the interests of the team."

Di Maria also has no qualms about where he is played, adding: "I'm prepared to play in any position the manager wants me to. I want to help the club be successful again."

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