Thursday 23 November 2017

Angel Di Maria was Manchester City target before Raheem Sterling

Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria

Mark Ogden

Manchester City considered an audacious move for Manchester United winger Angel di Maria before focusing their efforts on the capture of Raheem Sterling from Liverpool.

Sterling, 20, has become the most expensive Englishman in history after completing his £49m transfer from Anfield to the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

And while City manager Manuel Pellegrini and director of football Txiki Begiristain identified the England international as their priority attacking target at an early stage of last season, the club also investigated the prospect of luring Di Maria from United due to the Argentine’s struggle to adapt to life under Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford.

Despite making an early impact at United following his British record £59.7m transfer from Real Madrid last August, Di Maria failed to rediscover his early form after suffering the setback of a hamstring injury in December.

The trauma of a burglary at his Cheshire mansion in January, which prompted Di Maria to move his family to a city centre apartment, also affected the player and his wife, who remains unsettled in Manchester.

With Di Maria’s Argentine team-mates Sergio Aguero, Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta all established as a key figures at the Etihad, however, City explored the possibility of making a move for the former Benfica player if United were to make him available.

Sources close to Di Maria made it clear, though, that the unhappiness of the player’s wife in England ensured that a move back to the continent would be the only acceptable option for the 27-year-old, prompting City to look elsewhere for an alternative target had Liverpool refused to sell Sterling.

Paris Saint-Germain are the front-runners to sign Di Maria, with the French champions willing to pay £45m for the player, whose first preference is to pursue a return to Real.

Di Maria is absent from United’s pre-season tour of the United States due to his involvement at the Copa America with Argentina.

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