Manchester United legend Gary Neville has responded to claims from Angel Di Maria’s wife that England is a “sh*thole” by pointing out that the Argentine “played like a drain” during his time at Old Trafford.
A big-money agreement with Real Madrid during the summer of 2014 generated much excitement at the Theatre of Dreams, with the Red Devils believing that another superstar had been found to fill their No.7 jersey.
Di Maria was, however, to flop badly under Louis van Gaal and lasted just one season with United before being offloaded to French giants Paris Saint-Germain.
The 32-year-old’s wife, Jorgelina Cardoso, has claimed that she never wanted her husband to make a move, with her fears confirmed when a deal driven by financial gain was eventually pushed through.
She told Los Angeles de la Manana: “I remember Angel coming up and saying, 'An offer from Manchester United has come in. Maybe we'll be a little more financially secure...'. We fought about it.
“I told him, not a chance, he could go on his own. 'No, come on. Let's go', he replied.
“There was a lot of money involved, and afterwards, the Spanish were calling us peseteros (people only interested in money). And they were right! If you are working for a company and the competition comes along and offers to pay you double, you take it!
“I didn't want to go to Manchester because at that moment in time, I was friends with Gianinna Maradona, who was married to [Sergio] Aguero, and we flew from Madrid to his house in Manchester to pay him a visit for two or three days when Angel had a few days off at Real Madrid.
“It was horrible! All of it was horrible, we went to the house and we were like... 'See you later guys, we're out of here'. When we left, I said to him, 'Go to any country - except England'. Anyway, one year later and there we were in England and it was horrible, a sh*thole.”
Neville believes Di Maria and his family were looking for excuses from the moment they arrived in Manchester, with the South American told he should have looked to fellow countryman Aguero – who has become a legend at Manchester City – for inspiration.
The Red Devils icon told Sky Sports: “All I would say is, we hear these stories from time to time where a player has played like a drain, like Di Maria did at Manchester United.
“He was awful and I had high expectations and excitement when he came to the club thinking we were signing a top player. He was never interested from day one.
“What he needs to do is look across the road at Sergio Aguero, his Argentinian compatriot or Pablo Zabaleta who have done alright in Manchester and haven't been in a rush to leave.
“I will defend my city to the hilt and she did have an unfortunate experience where there was a robbery, which would hamper you mentally and would cloud your judgement of the city.”