Manchester United new boy Angel di Maria has claimed that Real Madrid tried to stop him from playing in the World Cup final this summer for Argentina.
Di Maria moved to Old Trafford this summer in a British record £59.7million transfer from the Santiago Bernabeu and the switch to the Premier League has been hallmarked by a number of stories designed to discredit either side.
The latest of these is a remarkable claim from the 26-year-old attacker that accused Real Madrid of trying to stop him from playing against Germany in Rio de Janeiro.
“There was a letter from Madrid that arrived at 11 in the morning of the match day, we were due to play at 4 in the afternoon … was putting ice on my leg to be in the final,” he is quoted as telling Argentine radio station America by the Guardian.
“I tore up the letter as soon as it was given to me and didn’t take any notice of it, I didn’t care what might happen, but it was [the coach] Alejandro’s [Sabella] decision,” he said.
“I didn’t want to make any demands of him but I also didn’t want to leave the team a man short five minutes from a very important match.
“The letter was handed to[late Argentine FA president] Julio [Grondona] and he said if I wanted to play I should do so anyway. From what I understand it had something to do with insurance.“
Ended in tears
Bayern Munich forward Mario Götze eventually scored the only goal of the game in extra-time to secure Germany’s fourth World Cup triumph.
Di Maria left Brazil to return to Spain and find a situation where he was unable to agree a new contract extension and was being touted to the top teams in Europe, despite probably being Real Madrid’s most impressive performer at the end of last season.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is in desperate need of inspiration after four matches without a win at the start of his maiden Premier League campaign.
However, Di Maria’s debut at Burnley showed glimpses of promise of what he can do, despite the team’s general performance being largely insipid in the scoreless draw.