MADRID-ANGEL DI MARIA was sold to Manchester United last summer because he didn’t fit the required ‘Galactico’ role at Real Madrid.
In an interview with Catalan outlet Regio7, former Barcelona and Spain winger Carles Rexach revealed that Real president Florentino Perez considered Di Maria ‘too ugly’ to fit the bill as a required Bernabeu superstar.
The Argentina international’s move to Old Trafford broke the British transfer record, although he is yet to justify his £59.7m transfer fee.
Di Maria’s misery was compounded on Saturday after being replaced at half-time by youngster Adnan Januzaj in the 2-0 win over Sunderland at Old Trafford, with Louis van Gaal asking fans to give the midfielder time to regain his confidence.
And speaking about the former Benfica man’s time with Los Blancos, Rexach revealed that he was only replaced by Monaco’s James Rodriguez because the Colombian’s look was better-suited to Perez’s presidential policies.
He said: “Florentino Perez looks at the world market and wants a team of ‘Galacticos’ for everyone to admire.
“[Vicente] Del Bosque and Di Maria are too ugly for Real Madrid. They are different from Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez.
“Do you understand what I mean? [Cristiano] Ronaldo is the flagship of the club. Perez is selling an international brand.”
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney says Di Maria will have to “figure out” how to re-discover the form that made him British football’s most expensive player.
Di Maria’s alarming slump reached rock bottom when he was hauled at half-time after an embarrassingly error-strewn first 45 minutes which must have left the watching Glazer family, Manchester United’s American owners, wondering just why they had sanctioned the eye-watering £59.7m outlay.
While Rooney backed the former Real Madrid star to come good, he said the only person who can really help is Di Maria himself.
“It was one of those days that every footballer has,” said Rooney. “But he is a great player, he has shown that, and you don’t lose your talent overnight. Hopefully he will get back to his best and start giving some performances for us.
“He has got a lot of experience and I think he will figure it out – we all have to do that sometimes. There is nothing worse than when everyone keeps going on to you.
“You have to come to it in your own way and I am sure he will be a big player for us between now and the end of the season.”
Di Maria said on the eve of the game that after a bright start to his United career, he is struggling to adapt to the English game but is drawing encouragement from his experience of overcoming similar teething troubles with Benfica and Real.
At the moment however the Argentina international – who was man of the match in last May’s Champions League final – is going backwards and manager Louis Van Gaal admitted he was so bad he had no choice but to send on Januzaj in his place, a decision that spared a big improvement in his team.
Di Maria constantly ran up blind alleys and lost possession as well as being guilty of over-hitting crosses and corners. His one attempt at goal from a free-kick sailed high over the bar.
Apart from his support for Di Maria, Rooney also dropped a big hint he wants to remain in his favoured position as a striker for the rest of the season after ending an eight-game Premier League drought with both United’s goals.
His double took him to 11 for the campaign in all competitions and came 24 hours after Van Gaal claimed he did not have a 20-goal-a-season striker in his squad. With Robin Van Persie out injured for a month and Radamel Falcao again making little impact, apart from winning a penalty, he is likely to stay there to keep United’s top four hopes on course.
Rooney, who has become the first player to score 10 goals or more in 11 successive seasons in the Premier League era, insists he was not stung by Van Gaal’s comments but clearly feels he can deliver the goods.
He said: “No, not at all. Everyone knows I’ve played midfield for the majority of the season but my record shows that I score goals so I’m not worried about that at all.
“I was obviously pleased that the manager played me up front and delighted to get the two goals but the victory was the most important thing. It’s down to the manager whether I stay there.
“I’ve said before that it’s his decision where he sees me playing and I will respect wherever he wants to play me.
“I’ve played there throughout my career so obviously I know how to play up front. So I’m ready to play there if and when he wants me to do it.”
Fans voiced their disapproval of United’s slow tempo in the first half but Rooney says they must learn to be patient.
“The fans here are always brilliant – they want us attacking at every opportunity but you can’t do that all the time,” he said. “Sometimes you have to work the opposition to tire them out which towards the end – that’s how you win games.”
Sunderland’s hopes of appealing Wes Brown’s red card on the basis of mistaken identity look to have been dashed.
Referee Roger East insisted that while John O’Shea committed the original foul on Falcao, he judged Brown to have then impeded the United striker as he was about to shoot – and none of his assistants had a good enough view to change his mind. But Sunderland are appealing the red card.
Rooney converted the penalty and then headed in after Januzaj’s shot had been parried by Costel Pantilimon for his first goal from open play since Boxing Day.- express.co.uk