As Angel Di Maria struggles to find his best form this season, the Real Madrid star admits he is missing the influence Jose Mourinho had on his career.
The Argentina international joined Los Blancos from Benfica in May 2010, just weeks before Mourinho was appointed as head coach. Although he was off the pace a little at times last season, in his first two seasons the 25-year-old was a standout player, and assisted an incredible 15 goals as he helped his side win La Liga title in 2012.
Mourinho left the Spanish capital to return to Chelsea ahead of the current season, and he has been replaced by Carlo Ancelotti. Although Di Maria has featured in 14 of their 16 league matches, only 10 of these have come from a starting position, and his chances of forcing his way into the XI are likely to lessen now Gareth Bale is back in action.
Whilst there have been no suggestions that Di Maria has any problems with his new coach, he has made no secret of his admiration for his former boss. And the forward, who cost a fee of around €40million, claims the Portuguese coach played a key role in helping him develop as a player during the three years they spent together.
“Mourinho turned me into a better player, he should me many things and helped me grow as a footballer,” said Di Maria. “He helped me move to a different position and sacrifice more for the good of the team. I am very grateful to him. He told me that I was a striker that could also defend and that I couldn’t relax when the opponents were attacking.”
Meanwhile, Di Maria has been linked with a transfer when the window reopens in the New Year, but Real president Florentino Perez told Radio de la Red: “We have not received any offer for the sale of Angel Di Maria. This is the truth of this subject. These are things that do not happen but are written about. Nobody has told me anything about this situation, I have asked the club if someone has approached us and nobody knows anything.”