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Van Gaal remains quiet on prospect of Di Maria talks

Help is on the way.

Louis van Gaal has still to celebrate his first competitive win as Manchester United manager. Picture: Getty Sport
Louis van Gaal has still to celebrate his first competitive win as Manchester United manager. Picture: Getty Sport

Allegedly. Angel di Maria was pictured yesterday saying his goodbyes to his Real Madrid team-mates but the Argentine has still to be waved into Old Trafford officially. His movements today will be followed by speculation, relating both to his intention to become a Manchester United player and the transfer fee that will require. It is thought that United must pay a British record transfer fee of £60m to bring him in.

The process has become a serious business for a club which continues to be bruised by punchlines. There was a suggestion made online last night that Di Maria was to pull out of a move to United as he had caught the end of their match with Sunderland: 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light. That was only a minor improvement on a defeat by Swansea City on the opening day of the campaign.

Such comments were light-hearted, of course. It is understood that a deal is close and that Di Maria will arrive in Manchester today to formalise his transfer. It seemed tempting to warn the winger to play his cards right since his prospective manager showed off his formidable poker face yesterday.

"I cannot say anything about transfers, you have to understand that," said Louis van Gaal, the United manager. "When a transfer has been finished then we can say something. When the moment is there then United shall announce it."

As if to muddy the waters further, Van Gaal added that there are various players he would consider bringing to Old Trafford. "It is not only Di Maria, maybe [Arturo] Vidal or [Lionel] Messi. We are a big club," added the Dutchman.

Not too big to falter in Sunderland - with Juan Mata's goal yesterday being cancelled out by Jack Rodwell. Van Gaal would bristle at the result, not least since Ashley Young was shown a yellow card controversially after tumbling over the challenge of Wes Brown inside the penalty area. The United winger looked round expecting a penalty but was met with an allegation of simulation instead.

Harry Redknapp might have considered diving for cover yesterday after he suffered a chastening defeat on his return to White Hart Lane. Now the manager of Queens Park Rangers, Redknapp watched glumly as the home side scored three times before the break - with Nacer Chadli scoring on either side of an effort from Eric Dier - before Emmanuel Adebayor capped the victory. It was Spurs' third win in as many games under Mauricio Pochettino, a record which Redknapp can only envy. QPR have registered neither a league point nor a goal following their return to the Barclays Premier League.

Hull City became unsettled too, but belatedly. Steve Bruce's side - for whom Scotland internationalist Andy Robertson impressed on the left flank - had gone ahead in the first half through Nikica Jelavic. It was a goal which seemed significant since the hosts had been reduced to 10 men already, with James Chester sent off after 14 minutes.

However, Stoke City made it 1-1 after 83 minutes when Phil Bardsley's angled shot ricocheted off the inside of a post, against goalkeeper Allan McGregor and was duly nudged over the line by the opportunistic Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross.

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