Di Maria: Mourinho made me the player I am today

The Argentine says the ex-Real Madrid coach helped him to develop his game and enthuses that he no longer feels overawed at playing alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria says that his former coach, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, has helped him become the player that he is today.

The Argentine left Benfica to join Mourinho at Madrid in a deal worth €25 million (£21m) in 2010 and has made over 100 appearances for Los Blancos, crediting his development into on of the leading stars at the Santiago Bernabeu to his mentor.

"Mourinho made me a better player. He showed me many things and made me grow as a footballer. He helped me to move into a different position, to sacrifice myself more for the team," Di Maria told Diario Ole.

"I'm very grateful to him. He told me that, at Real, I was a forward that could also defend and that I couldn't rest when they were on the attack.

"As I was performing under him for the three years he was at Madrid he put me in the starting line-up. The Di Maria playing down the middle compared to the one now is a different player, both technically and tactically."

The 25-year-old, now playing in his third season in the Spanish capital, says that he no longer feels overawed by lining up alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and, at international level, Lionel Messi.

"My friends ask me about it and make me realise that I'm playing alongside them," he continued, "but, as time goes on, I'm getting used to it and appearing alongside them is something natural for me. I don't say: 'Wow, I'm here and playing with so-and-so' any more."

Di Maria has been linked with a move away from Madrid in recent weeks, with a number of teams reportedly interested in his signature, including Ligue 1 side Monaco and Premier League clubs Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

However, despite the arrival of Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu for a world-record fee, which has curbed he amount of appearances that Di Maria has made, coach Carlo Ancelotti insists that he still wants the Argentine at the club.