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OFFICIAL: Di Maria returns to Benfica 13 years after leaving for Real Madrid

Di Maria

The Argentine playmaker joined the Eagles in 2007 after leaving Rosario Central in his home country.

It comes after a year with Juventus, who decided not to renew his lucrative deal in June.

The Portuguese club simply remarked, ‘Welcome back, Di Maria!’ in a tweet confirming his return.

Benfica will reveal the 2022 World Cup winner tonight in a ceremony outside their historic Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, near the Eusebio statue.

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Last season, the team recaptured the Primeira Liga championship for the first time since 2019 and advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals.

That bodes well for their new signing, who won the league and two domestic cups during his previous stint in Portugal.

Due to his small build, Di Maria was nicknamed El Fideo – ‘The Noodle’ – and left Benfica in 2010 to join Real Madrid, where he became one of the world’s most celebrated midfielders and won the Champions League and La Liga.

After dismal performances, his move to Manchester United in 2014 for a then-British record £59.7 million was widely regarded as a flop, and after a year, he left for PSG, where he spent seven seasons.

The midfield genius reestablished his reputation in the French capital, winning 18 trophies, including five Ligue 1 titles. During that time, he established himself as the club’s all-time assist leader and ninth-highest goalscorer.

His time at Juventus won’t be remembered for long, but 2022 will always be significant to Di Maria because of World Cup victory.

In Qatar, he scored the second goal of the World Cup final, propelling La Albiceleste to their third World Cup title.

It capped off a great international career that saw him win 132 caps.

He joins Benfica at an exciting time for the club, which has already made progress in the transfer market this summer by bringing in ex-Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kokcu, 22.

He will also be reunited with Argentina teammate Nicolas Otamendi as a result of the deal.