ANGEL di Maria has claimed his former club Real Madrid put pressure on Argentina not to play him in the World Cup final in another bitter chapter in his departure from the La Liga club.
Di MarÃa joined Manchester United from Real last month for a British record fee of Â£59.7m with the Spanish clubâ€™s president, Florentino PÃ©rez, saying the wingerâ€™s demands for a new contract were too steep.
â€œThere was a letter from Madrid that arrived at 11 in the morning of the match day, we were due to play at four in the afternoon â€¦ I was putting ice on my leg to be in the final,â€ Di MarÃa told the Argentinian radio station America on Friday, suggesting the club did not want him to aggravate a leg injury.
â€œI tore up the letter as soon as it was given to me and didnâ€™t take any notice of it, I didnâ€™t care what might happen, but it was [the coach] Alejandroâ€™s [Sabella] decision,â€ he said.
â€œI didnâ€™t want to make any demands of him but I also didnâ€™t want to leave the team a man short five minutes from a very important match.â€œ
Di MarÃa, whose goal gave Argentina a 1-0 win over Switzerland in the last 16, suffered a leg muscle injury during the 1-0 quarter-final defeat of Belgium and took no further part in the tournament. Argentina went on to lose the final 1-0 after extra time to Germany at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on 13 July.
â€œI suffered a lot that morning, it was the worst thing thatâ€™s happened to me in my life in footballing [terms] because reaching another final is very difficult, not to say impossible,â€ MarÃa said.
â€œThe letter was handed to [late Argentina FA president] Julio [Grondona] and he said if I wanted to play I should do so anyway. From what I understand it had something to do with insurance.â€
Later on Friday, Julio Grondona Jr accused PÃ©rez of wanting to intimidate the AFA into not fielding Di MarÃa, who was man of the match in Real Madridâ€™s Champions League victory in the final against AtlÃ©tico Madrid in May.
â€œWe received the letter signed by Florentino PÃ©rez saying he did not allow MarÃa to play … We called MarÃa and together agreed to tear it up,â€ said Grondonaâ€™s son, president of Argentinian first division club Arsenal, which was founded by his father, and a member of Argentinaâ€™s World Cup delegation. â€œWe were pressured.â€
MarÃa, outstanding in Argentinaâ€™s 4-2 friendly win over Germany in DÃ¼sseldorf on Wednesday, denied ever wanting to leave Real and once again praised former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo for backing him to stay at the club.
â€œI never wanted to leave Madrid, Cristiano always supported me to stay. Selling me was very good for Madrid to recover all they had spent [in the transfer market],â€ he said. – The Guardian