London: Manchester United might have signed Angel Di Maria for a British record signing of 59 million pounds from Real Madrid, but 20 years ago the Argentine midfielder had been traded for 26 footballs by his junior club.
United has been forced to agree to pay a minimum wage to Di Maria because they could not offer him Champions League football and the Argentine will earn 2,80,000 pounds-a-week at the club.
Di Maria's advisers have been touting the winger around Europe all summer and United blinked first by agreeing a fee of 59.7 million pounds with another potential 7 million pounds in add-ons, The Mirror reported.
When income tax and national insurance are factored in, Di Maria will cost United 70 million pounds in basic wages over the course of his five-year contract.
Wayne Rooney is United's top earner on almost 3,00,000 pounds-a-week and Robin van Persie earns 2,50,000 pounds-a-week.
However, Di Maria's story is reportedly a real rags-to-riches tale. In 1992, doctors in the El Churrasco district of Rosario where the winger grew up advised his mother, Diana, to get four-year-old Angel involved in football to help control his hyperactivity.
Di Maria's mother took him to El Torito, a junior club that wears orange shirts in tribute to Holland's 'Total Football' World Cup squad of 1974. After scoring 64 goals in one season, Di Maria was spotted by Rosario Central scout Angel Tulio Zof, who agreed to hand over 26 new footballs to El Torito as a thank-you.
He signed for Rosario four days before his seventh birthday and El Torito president Jorge Cornejo recalled that they couldn't ask for money for a kid of his age, so they agreed to send them 26 footballs.
Cornjeo also said that unfortunately, they reneged on the deal and El Torito received nothing in the end.