Ronaldo issues Di Maria warning

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Angel di Maria, pictured, can succeed in the Manchester United number seven shirt

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Angel di Maria, pictured, can succeed in the Manchester United number seven shirt

First published in National Sport © by

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 of 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."

The 29-year-old, named UEFA's European player of the year for 2013/14, believes that Real can still target the treble even after the departures.

He said: "Our target is to win it again - the Champions League, the Cup the League - everything.

"We're going to try to do the same this season, win the Champions League. We know it's a hard competition to win but we will try because Real Madrid are always thinking big - huge.

"Liverpool are a fantastic team. They came very close last year to winning the Premier League. We know it's going to be a very tough game at their home. So it's going to be tough.

"But in general the group is nice and it's going to be good for Real Madrid."

Ronaldo said he was still not at full fitness - a condition that affected him in the World Cup.

"Everyone knows I'm not at 100 per cent but right now I will have time to prepare and recover so that when the tough games come Cristiano will be ready.

"I still need a bit of time. I didn't have a pre-season like I'd have wanted to have. But little by little I'm gaining confidence and getting better physically and certainly in one or two weeks I will be in top shape."

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