Angel Di Maria has been voted Argentina’s foreign-based player of the year.
Manchester United‘s Angel Di Maria has been voted Argentina’s foreign-based player of the year by the country’s sports journalists, beating Lionel Messi to the award. Di Maria, who joined Manchester United for a club record £60million fee this summer, won the Olimpia de Plata (Silver Olimpia award) at a ceremony on Tuesday after pipping Messi to the prize. Di Maria helped former club Real Madrid win their 10th European Cup in May and Argentina reach the World Cup final, which he missed through injury, in Brazil and has made an impressive start to his career in England. He was given the Olimpia de Plata at a ceremony on Tuesday, where he was celebrated for his successes for both club and country. In a pre-recorded message, as the player was in Manchester after a night out with his team mates, Di Maria spoke of the honor at winning the award.
“I’m sorry for not being able to be at the awards ceremony; I’m in Manchester, and I don’t have the vacations I used to have to be able to go to Argentina,” he said. “Thank you for choosing me, thank you to those who voted, I’m very thankful for the gift. It’s a nice award for an athlete; winning it for the first time is a great honour for me and my family. Thank you very much, goodnight, and Merry Christmas.”
It was the first time that Lionel Messi did not win the award since 2006 despite the fact the Barcelona man has scored 56 goals for club and country and won the World Cup player of the tournament award. Messi, Di Maria and Javier Mascherano were shortlisted.
Di Maria, who was part of Argentina’s world cup winning team but missed the final, was instrumental in helping his former side Real Madrid win their 10th Champions League trophy this year. Di Maria capped his summer by becoming the most expensive Premier League signing of all-time, with Manchester United paying upwards of £60million on him in a bid to turn their fortunes. His impact at Old Trafford was felt immediately, scoring three in his first five appearances for the Red Devils, including a sumptuous chip at Leicester – arguably United’s best goal of the season so far.
He has become a mainstay in Louis van Gaal’s line-up, as United have embarked on a six-match winning run following their 3-0 win over Liverpool on Sunday.