There was hope right until the end. On Sunday morning, Spanish sports daily AS captured the mood of madridistas with a front cover which read: "Saving Private Di Maria". In an accompanying survey, it added, 83.5 per cent of fans wanted him to stay. But by Sunday afternoon, he had packed his bags and said goodbye.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti faced the Madrid media on Sunday and confirmed his player's imminent exit, which had looked inevitable ever since the Italian left the winger out of Friday's night's Supercopa de Espana second leg against Atletico at the Vicente Calderon.