Ronaldo warns Di Maria number seven shirt carries heavy burden

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo holds his UEFA European Best Player of the Year trophy


Cristiano Ronaldo has warned Angel de Maria that filling the number seven shirt at Manchester United will be "a big responsibility" but has backed him to rise to the challenge.

Di Maria will be following in the footsteps of Ronaldo in playing in that shirt after his £59.7million move from Real Madrid, as well as other United greats including George Best and Bryan Robson.

Ronaldo, speaking at the Champions League draw in Monaco, added that he was relishing the prospect of facing Liverpool in Europe but that Real were determined to hold on to their crown even without the likes of Di Maria, to whom he sent a message of support.

"I wish the best to him, he deserves it, he’s a fantastic player, he’s going to do well at Manchester United," said Ronaldo. "And I said to him ‘Number seven is a big responsibility’ but I think he will be able to take that shirt because he’s a fantastic player.

"Good for him. United is one of the best clubs in the world, and it’s going to be good for him and I wish the best of luck to him.

"Personally, it’s a shame for me because I liked Di Maria, a very important player for us as was Xabi Alonso (who is understood to be on the verge of joining Bayern Munich). They are situations that happen in football, players come and players go.

"They are decisions of the club. We have bought very well with players like James [Rodriguez], [Keylor] Navas and [Toni] Kroos and for that reason we are in good condition with a great squad."

Ronaldo admitted he was surprised at United’s poor start to the season, saying: "A little bit, yes. But it’s still early."