Manchester United winger Angel di Maria has been talking about the pressure that comes with wearing Old Trafford's iconic No.7 shirt, and revealed the reason behind his decision to choose such a historic jersey.
The £59.7 million club record signing moved to the Theatre of Dreams from Real Madrid in a British record transfer deal last summer, but has so far failed to live up to the reputation that prompted the Red Devils to pay such a significant amount of money for his services.
There have been a number of different theories behind why Di Maria has struggled to settle during his debut season in the Premier League, the most common of those being the current system deployed by Louis van Gaal not playing to the Argentina international's strengths.
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The weight of expectation from supporters might also be playing a part in the 26-year-old's recent troubles, but it's certainly got nothing to do with the number on his back, previously worn by Manchester United legends like George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
"I’m genuinely happy to be wearing the No.7 shirt," Di Maria was quoted by the Daily Mirror from an interview with Inside United. "I know that some really great players have worn it in the past for Manchester United.
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“Top, top players if you like. I was really excited to wear that number, as it’s the one I wear for Argentina and things have always gone really well for me.
“That’s one reason I chose the number and also because so many great players have worn it before me.
"I hope that I can perform well and that the No.7 shirt can keep its privileged place, high in the history of Manchester United.”
Di Maria's quest to preserve the shirt's prestigious reputation will have to be placed on hold briefly, as he prepares to sit out Sunday's Premier League encounter with Tottenham Hotspur to serve the one-game suspension following his red card in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat against Arsenal last Monday.
The South American was sent off for two bookable offences in the space of one minute after an altercation with referee Michael Oliver, who had just opted to caution Di Maria for an alleged dive in an attempt to win a free-kick on the edge of the Gunners box.
He'll be hoping to get back in Van Gaal's starting XI for forthcoming games against Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Chelsea, though, matches that could well define Manchester United's season as they look to maintain their challenge for Champions League qualification.
Manchester United fans: Do you think Angel di Maria is struggling to handle the pressure that comes with wearing the iconic No.7 shirt? Do you think the Argentine winger will come good, and join the likes of Best, Cantona, Beckham and Ronaldo in the pantheon of Old Trafford greats? Share your thoughts below...
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