Monaco boss Claudio Ranieri acknowledged he is interested in signing Real Madrid attacker Angel di Maria but denied that a January transfer is a done deal, calling it "just a rumor."
The Argentina international has been in and out of the Blancos team this season following the summer arrival of Gareth Bale from Tottenham for a world-record fee and looked visibly frustrated after being substituted on one of his rare opportunities to shine in the Copa del Rey clash with Olimpic de Xativa on Saturday.
Speculation is rife that Di Maria is angling for a move to Monaco to boost his hopes of traveling to Brazil for the World Cup. When asked if he were interested in the winger after Sunday night's 1-0 Ligue 1 win over Ajaccio, Ranieri replied: "Yes. But I do not think he will come. It is just a rumor."
Monaco was made to work hard for all three points against the 10-man Corsicans, with Emmanuel Riviere's late goal ensuring victory without the injured Radamel Falcao. And the former Juventus and Inter coach is delighted with his troops' ability to maintain their composure under pressure, as well as their hunger and desire.
"I saw that the squad wanted to win," Ranieri told reporters. "For the goal, four players were ready within one meter of the goal in order to score. So it was good. The most important thing is the three points. The players remained calm and kept the ball, passing to their teammates quickly. They tried everything to get a goal. It was very difficult but I am very pleased.
"I think that the season is very long. Like I said already, Monaco are fighting Monaco and we keep going without watching the other teams. Second in the table behind PSG is good. A season is long, it is long. But I am pleased for my players because they deserve it and it is the fourth victory in a row."
Ranieri also said Falcao could be ready to return from a thigh injury for the trip to Guingamp on Saturday.
"Falcao may play the next [game]. Maybe. I think that he will train with us on Wednesday and if he's fit, he could play or be on the bench with me."