Manchester United’s club-record signing Angel di Maria has been told by manager Louis van Gaal to get used to the physical nature of the Premier League.
The Argentina international, who completed his £59.7 million move from Real Madrid last week, impressed on his United debut against Burnley on Saturday - but admits there are big differences between the English and Spanish top-flight leagues.
"It's all more physical, with more force, than in Spain,” Di Maria was quoted as saying by the Daily Star. "It's a tough league, in which you have to run a lot.
"Van Gaal has told me to get used to it as soon as possible and to stay close to those further up the pitch.”
Di Maria not fazed by price tag - or shirt number
Di Maria not only became Manchester United’s record signing, he also became the most expensive footballer in British football history, smashing the £50 million fee that Chelsea paid for Fernando Torres in January 2011.
The 26-year-old, though, will be hoping that his spell at Old Trafford is a lot more successful than Torres’ ill-fated Chelsea tenure.
Di Maria insists that he is not overawed by his astronomical price tag, and is delighted to have been handed the club’s iconic number seven shirt.
"I don't think that I'm the most costly in the Premier,” the South American added. "Wearing the No.7 shirt is wonderful. The best players at United have worn that shirt, but I don't feel under pressure because of it."
Di Maria impressed on debut
Di Maria is widely considered one of the world’s best left-footed wingers, but showcased his surprising versatility last season while playing in an unfamiliar central midfield role at Real Madrid.
He made such a good impression in that position that Van Gaal decided to pay close to £60 million for him to come and perform the same job in United’s midfield.
Di Maria started against Burnley on the left-side of Manchester United’s midfield and was the best player on the pitch for the opening half hour. He slowed down as the match wore on and was eventually substituted in the second half, but United fans will be hugely excited at the prospect of watching him in action again after the international break.
Potential partnership with Radamel Falcao
They will be even more excited now that United have signed the world-class Colombia international Radamel Falcao, who signed for the Red Devils on a season-long loan deal from AS Monaco on Monday.
One of Falcao’s great strengths is his heading ability - and the former Atletico Madrid star should profit from the service provided by the equally talented Di Maria.
But the latter must, as Van Gaal warns, get used to the Premier League sooner rather than later.
Di Maria will be acutely aware of the fact his compatriot Juan Sebastian Veron, who Manchester United broke the British transfer record for in 2001, struggled to get to grips with the pace of the English game and was subsequently offloaded after only two seasons.