Manchester United record signing Angel di Maria insists he is motivated to do well for his new club and live up to the reputation of the famous number seven shirt he was handed upon his arrival from Real Madrid.
The Argentine has hit the ground running at Old Trafford following his £59.7 million switch, and has scored three goals and bagged three assists in his first five games.
As Manchester United's most expensive player ever Di Maria already has plenty to live up to, while he also has the added burden of wearing number seven. The likes of Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo have all donned the famous shirt in the past, and now Di Maria is out to prove that he's up to the task of following in the footsteps of those legends by maintaining his performances over the entire season.
When asked about the seven shirt, he told MUTV: “It is a source of motivation. When you wear a shirt that’s been worn by the likes of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s something you’re always going to be pleased about.
“The fact that the club have chosen to give me that shirt number also gives me a huge confidence boost, so that’s why I’m very happy to have this number."
Ronaldo dazzled in the seven shirt for Manchester United before becoming the most expensive player on the planet following his £80 million switch to Real Madrid in 2009. In Spain the flying winger established a strong partnership with Di Maria, who was Los Blancos' leading assist provider in his final season before his switch to Manchester United.
The 26-year-old has confirmed that he spoke to Ronaldo about the possibility of making the move to Manchester United before his eventual switch.
“Before we knew I was coming to Manchester, he told me it’s a massive club, I would be very happy here and it would be good for me," he explained. "At that time we didn’t know for sure that I was coming or not, so we didn’t go into great detail, but what he did say helped me greatly to make my decision.”
Di Maria is currently away with the Argentina national team during the international break, but will return to his club before their fixture against West Brom.
He says he's already struck up a rapport with Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal, and is hoping he can help the Red Devils get back to the top of table.
"We get on very well, he was one of the reasons I came here,” he said of his relationship with Van Gaal. “I’m very grateful to him because he wanted to sign me. That makes me happy. Also, he’s a person who wants to win all the time, and to take the club back into the Champions League as quickly as possible, so the focus is very much on that. In every training session and every match we want to give 100 per cent.
“The sessions are different because here football is a lot more competitive, so you feel the physical aspects and the contact more. As a result you need to be 100 per cent fit all the time and ready for anything. I really like that. I like it when the manager takes games, and when we do work on finishing or free-kicks. It motivates you to train harder.”