Di Maria voted Goal readers' midfielder of the season

The Argentine came out on top in our poll of the best midfielders from 2013-14 as part of the countdown to the Goal 50


Angel Di Maria has topped Goal‘s poll of the best midfielders of the 2013-14 season as we continue the countdown to the Goal 50.

The Argentine was reinvented in a deeper role by Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid and thrived, putting in a man of the match performance in his side’s historic Champions League final victory over city rivals Atletico.

And Di Maria picked some 23.1 per cent of the vote, just ahead of Yaya Toure, who led Manchester City to the Premier League title and garnered 19.9%.

The next highest in the poll is Di Maria’s Madrid colleague Luka Modric, who landed 11.1% after a superb season at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In fourth was Aaron Ramsey, who enjoyed a wonderful year for Arsenal, scoring a dramatic extra-time winner in the FA Cup final to end the Gunners’ trophy drought. His exploits saw him backed by 8.5%.

He had Juventus star Arturo Vidal breathing down his neck, though, the Chilean picking up 8.4% of the vote, while Toni Kroos, who won a move from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid this summer, is next with 7%.

See how Di Maria fared in the Goal 50 when the full rankings, including the winner, are announced on July 28.

Yaya Toure confirms he is staying at Manchester City

The Cote d’Ivoire star says he will honour his contract and remain at the Etihad Stadium for “as long as possible” despite claims he was unhappy at the club earlier this summer


Yaya Toure has confirmed that he will stay at Manchester City this summer, putting an end to speculation surrounding his future with the Premier League champions.

The Cote d’Ivoire midfielder has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain after his agent, Dimitri Seluk, claimed that he was “bitterly upset” by the way he had been treated at City.

According to Seluk, none of the club’s owners shook his hand when they travelled to the United Arab Emirates at the end of the season a short time after his 31st birthday.

Toure initially backed his agent’s comments but has now told Sky Sports that he is looking forward to remaining at the Etihad Stadium for the forseeable future.

“They’ve always been good with me and my family,” he said. “I want to say [to the fans] that I will always honour my contract and stay as long as possible and don’t think about all the speculation they’ve seen saying I’ll be leaving.

“I think for what the fans have done for me, and the club as well, it’s a big pleasure to stay and continue and try to enjoy the next season.

“There are more important things than money because sometimes in life it’s ideal to be in a good way and healthy. That aspect is very important. The team is preparing well and we’ll try to win again next year.”

Seluk has also now ruled out a move for his client. ”He is 100 per sent staying with City next season, not [moving to] PSG or anywhere else,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

Toure signed a new deal with City a year ago and is under contract until 2017. He scored 20 league goals in 35 games as Manuel Pellegrini’s team won the Premier League last season.

Fernando: It's an honour to play with Yaya Toure

The new signing is looking to help the club push on and impress in the Champions League after joining from Porto and says he is relishing working with the Ivorian


Fernando says he considers it “an honour” to be able to play alongside Yaya Toure after joining Manchester City from Porto.

There are question marks over Toure’s future at the Premier League champions following a number of public statements of unhappiness at City’s actions regarding his birthday and recently passed brother and he talks are scheduled between him and the club.

Fernando finally sealed a move to the Manuel Pellegrini’s side last month after a failed bid in January and is hoping to impress as City look to defend their 2014-15 crown.

“City are known all over the world, footballers are aware of Manchester City,” Fernando told reporters. “It’s a dream to be here and part of this great club, and I also hope to become one of the club’s great players.

“The player I most admire and who I watch a lot of his games, is Yaya Toure. He’s a great player and for me it will be an honour to play alongside him.

“I work hard, I always look for a way to win back control of the ball as quickly as possible, and give it to my colleagues.

“I consider myself a good team player and always try to be at my best on the pitch and transmit good energy to the other players.”

Fernando won four league titles in Portugal, plus a Europa League crown in 2010-11, and said he understands the pressure that comes with being champions.

“We know expectations are higher, because after winning the title everyone believes they can do better,” said Fernando.

“All we have to do is make sure we deliver the same performance as last season so we can win it again. And in the Champions League we must give our all this year.

“I left a good legacy in Porto, and hope I can repeat the same here with City, winning titles and playing regularly.

“That’s what everyone can expect from me – willpower and dedication, always with eyes on trophies. That is what City and I want.”

Window Watch: Herrera & Shaw just the start of Van Gaal's Manchester United overhaul

Goal’s weekly column looks at the latest in the transfer market, including the Red Devils’ double swoop for Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, and Manchester City’s capture of Fernando


LUKE SHAW & ANDER HERRERA JUST THE BEGINNING FOR MANCHESTER UNITED

In the space of 24 hours, Manchester United delivered a huge statement of intent to Europe’s elite with a near-€80 million outlay on Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera.

It promises to be a mere starting point. The word from the top of England’s highest-earning club has long been that they will use this summer’s window to undergo one of the most expensive squad overhauls in football history.

Indeed, the signs are that United’s costs in transfer fees alone could exceed the €187m outlays of Chelsea in 2003 and Manchester City in 2010.

Yet United are not just making their mark with top-end signing costs. It is no secret within the football village where middlemen and club executives grease the wheels of the transfer market that the 20-times Premier League champions are paying huge salaries to entice players to Old Trafford.

Shaw is a perfect example. The 18-year-old became the most expensive teenage signing in football history when he completed his €37.5m move on Friday.

United will pay the England international €200,000-a-week after making him an offer weeks ago that comfortably trumped what even Chelsea were willing to pay.

Within football circles, this is significant. United’s wage bill demonstrates they will pay top dollar for their most valuable stars, with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie commanding huge basic salaries.

Yet those players further down the Old Trafford chain have tended to be lower paid than their direct equivalents at Chelsea and City.

This is now changing. The €56m-a-year that the Glazer family suck out of the club in interest payments is outweighed by the vast revenues generated by United’s plethora of commercial agreements.

Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman charged with sealing the big player deals, is content for it to be known that United will use their resources like never before this summer.

Europe’s finest have been warned.

FERNANDO SIGNS AS MANCHESTER CITY WAIT ON YAYA

Manchester City finally got the €15m signing of Fernando over the line this week when the midfielder transferred from Porto.

With Bacary Sagna signing on a free, this was City’s first actual transfer outlay following their punishment for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.

City have an agreement with Uefa to “significantly limit spending in the transfer market” for two years, including a net spend of only €60 million this summer.

How the remaining €45m is spent could depend upon the future of Yaya Toure, who seems intent on engineering his exit from Etihad Stadium this summer.

Given that he turned 31 last month, Toure is unlikely to command a fee much in excess of €37m but his possible exit would drastically alter the landscape in terms of the funds available to manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Should Toure leave, City would require a blue-chip attacking midfielder as a replacement, although everyone of a sky blue persuasion accepts the Cote d’Ivoire powerhouse is virtually irreplaceable. Fernando is certainly not that player. He is more of a destroyer in the Nigel de Jong mould than a creator or finisher.

If Toure patches up a relationship with his employers that appears to be almost damaged beyond repair, attention is likely to settle on an authentic centre-back partner for Vincent Kompany.

Martin Demechilis’ fine form in the title run-in papered over the cracks of a defence that appears overly reliant on Kompany’s leadership and Pablo Zabaleta’s energy.

If the outlandish €50m fee Chelsea were able to extract from Paris Saint-Germain for David Luiz tells us anything, it is that City will have to pay top dollar for a proven centre-back.

ON THE MOVE? ALEXIS SANCHEZ COULD LEAVE CAMP NOU

One player to keep an eye on this window is Chile hotshot Alexis Sanchez.

Barcelona are willing to offload the versatile forward for around €37m even though only Lionel Messi plundered more goals for the Catalan club last season.

Manchester City schedule crunch Yaya Toure talks

The Ivorian is at odds with the club after voicing displeasure over allegedly being denied time with his brother Ibrahim before his death and its failure to celebrate his birthday


By Paul Clennam

Manchester City are to grant Yaya Toure a three-week break ahead of scheduled crisis talks over the midfielder’s future, Goal understands.

The 31-year-old’s relationship with his club plumbed new depths on Tuesday when the Ivory Coast star claimed that City denied him the opportunity to spend time with his brother Ibrahim, who passed away on June 19, prior to his death.

Relations between the player and the Premier League champions were already fraught after Toure accused the club of failing to properly acknowledge his birthday and City are understood to be mortified by the latest accusations.

In an interview with France Football, Toure said: “I confess that I am still very sad. I’m suffering because I feel I have done nothing useful for him the last few weeks.

“At the end of the season, I wanted to stay for four or five days with my brother before I flew to prepare for the World Cup with Ivory Coast, except City did not want to give me a few days.

“I went to celebrate the title championship in Abu Dhabi while my brother was in his sickbed. By fortune, Kolo was at his bedside. After that I blame myself for not insisting and for not leading them to respect me.

“However, club officials knew that I had been suffering for a few months seeing the health of my brother decline.

“This is the reason I had several injuries at the end of the season because my head had taken control of my body. These last four months have probably been the hardest in my life.”

Toure and the Ivory Coast crashed out of the World Cup on Tuesday after a last-minute penalty from Greece’s Giorgios Samaras condemned his side to group-stage elimination for the third World Cup tournament in a row.

City, who begin their pre-season campaign with a friendly against Dundee on July 13 before flying out to America for the International Champions Cup, will now grant Toure extended leave before holding talks over his future.