Manchester United needs a miracle to win the league title this year according to manager Louis van Gaal, so what better way to start off than with the arrival of an angel.
Angel Di Maria, the Argentina winger, completed his £59.7 million ($98.7m) move with a British transfer record from Real Madrid Tuesday on a five-year deal, the club announced on its official website.
“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Spain and there were a lot of clubs interested in me, but United is the only club that I would have left Real Madrid for,” said Di Maria.
“Angel is a world-class midfielder but most importantly he is a team player. There is no doubting his immense natural talent,” Van Gaal said after clinching the signing.
“He is an excellent addition to the team.”
But on the day the 26-year-old arrived at Old Trafford, the club suffered an embarrassing exit from the English League Cup at MK Dons thrashed 4-0 by the third flight side.
Goals from Will Grigg in either half and a late double from Benik Afobe saw an admittedly understrength United team humiliated.
The shock defeat comes after United failed to win either of its two Premier League games following a home defeat by Swansea and a draw at Sunderland.
The arrival of Di Maria is something of a coup for a club without the lure of Champions League football given the Argentine was recently described by his fellow countryman and Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone as Real Madrid’s “best player.”
He also starred for Argentina in its run to the World Cup final in Brazil, but missed the semifinal win over Van Gaal’s Netherlands and the final defeat to Germany due to a thigh injury.
However there are reservations over whether United should have used the money to improve other areas of the squad.
“I think he himself is an excellent signing,” Miguel Delaney, football writer for the Independent and the Blizzard told CNN.
“It remains staggering that Real are selling him, given he tied their formation together last season but it sums up so much of the current United that a signing like that can still leave so many questions.
“He is now the club’s primary signing, yet it hasn’t addressed the two primary issues with the squad central defense and central midfield.
“At the very least, he offers pace, and trickery, and will give the side some of the thrust it lacked against Sunderland.
“But United also needs players further back to offer that platform. It’s difficult to have any quibbles with the signing of Di Maria. You can, however, have quibbles with signing him without purchasing more necessary players.”
United endured a disastrous time last season as David Moyes, the man who replaced Alex Ferguson, was sacked just 10 months after taking over at Old Trafford.
The club finished seventh in the Premier League and missed out on qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 1995.
Ryan Giggs took over the reins following Moyes’ exit in April before Van Gaal was appointed in July.
United have brought in midfielder Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao, teenager Luke Shaw from Southampton and defender Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon.
But Di Maria is the marquee signing, the winger who played such a key role for Argentina in the World Cup and Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph.
Real paid around $60 million for Di Maria in 2010 following the player’s successful time with Benfica in Portuguese football where he won the league title and the domestic cup on two occasions.
During his time in the Spanish capital, Di Maria became an important part of the side which won the Spanish league title in 2012.
He was also a key member of the team which won “La Decima” Real’s 10th European Cup triumph with a dramatic victory over Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final.
But his chances of first team football with Carlo Ancelotti’s side have been limited since the arrival of James Rodriguez.
The Colombian, one of the stars of the World Cup in Brazil, joined the club last month in a deal worth a reported $121 million.
Real also completed the $34 million signing of Germany World Cup winner Toni Kroos in July as it bolstered its midfield options.
Di Maria will hope to make his United debut against Burnley on Saturday at Turf Moor, with Van Gaal hoping his team can hit back after its sorry start to the season.
The previous British transfer record was set by Chelsea in 2011 when they paid £50 million ($83m) to sign Fernando Torres from Liverpool.