David De Gea: Manchester United in bitter war of words with Real Madrid over failed transfer

Old Trafford officials believe Madrid did not want transfer to go ahead after getting cold feet over deal

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The Independent Football

Manchester United have said Real Madrid only had themselves to blame for failing to sign goalkeeper David De Gea, having concluded that the Spanish club may have deliberately sought to abort the deal which would also have brought Keylor Navas to Old Trafford.

A bitterly acrimonious dispute between the two clubs was provoked by the Spaniards issuing a statement suggesting United were to blame for the failure to register De Gea’s move in time with the Spanish La Liga. But a bemused and astonished United provided a detailed rebuttal, revealing that they have secured the support of the Football Association to demonstrate that they worked professionally on the last day of the Spanish transfer window, on Monday. The club, who believe manager Louis van Gaal will win over De Gea, said were “delighted that… fan-favourite double Player of the Year, David De Gea, remains a Manchester  United player.”

Behind the public choreography of the dispute, there is a sense of astonishment at United about the way the deal started to unravel on Monday. Despite months of conjecture and rumour, Real did not make any contact with United about De Gea until the last morning of their transfer window. They did not table a formal bid for the player until around 12.45pm, having spent the morning repeatedly urging United – through agent Jorge Mendes – to name their price for the player.


Keylor Navas was part of the original deal

United reiterated that they were not selling and it was only after the low initial bid – €15m plus Navas – had been rejected and a number of minimal add-ons offered that a serious sum of €25m plus Navas was tabled. Aware that they would lose De Gea on a free transfer next summer and conscious that Navas was enthusiastic about a move to Manchester, United agreed to enter into negotiations.




Yet despite speaking at length to Navas, agreeing the terms of a transfer and having a private jet ready to bring him to their Carrington training base for a medical, there was - by the United version of events - a catalogue of problems which suggested that Madrid had second thoughts. They included:

- Madrid insisting that Navas should not fly to Manchester and did not need to be put through a medical, with chief executive Jose Angel Sanchez rejecting United’s demands for one until such a time that United had to agree to an exchange of medical information instead

- Navas’ agent Ricardo Cabanas disappearing out of telephone contact with United for three hours on Monday afternoon, until such a time that it was too late to fly the 28-year-old to Manchester for a medical

- Real sending De Gea’s transfer document to United minus the signatory page at 22.32pm, less than half an hour before the deadline

- De Gea’s transfer documentation being sent to United again – only this time with a significant technical change to the deal which made it far less attractive to United. This “mark-up”, which was certainly enough to be a deal-breaker, reached United with a mere 20 minutes to go before the transfer window closed

- Real only sending the documents needed to cancel de Gea’s contract to United  at 22.55pm – five minutes before the deadline

By the United version of events, Madrid were entirely in control of the entire deal, by which De Gea’s £22m departure was dependent on Navas’ £7m arrival. Cabanas and Navas spent a substantial part of Monday afternoon at the Real training ground, putting them in a position where Sanchez could have pushed the agent into action. But United found Cabanas incredibly slow and unresponsive.

There was a sense of bafflement around Old Trafford as to why Real might not apparently want the deal to progress after all – an impression that increased when the Spanish club did not take up United’s offer of FA support today, and instead quickly conceded defeat.

It does not seem entirely inconceivable that a Marca poll published on Monday afternoon, which indicated that 90 per cent of fans may be against the Navas/De Gea deal, influenced Real  president Florentino Perez. To have withdrawn directly from the deal at that stage could have alienated Madrid from De Gea and jeopardised attempts to buy him next summer.


The super-agent Jorge Mendes (left) alongside Radamel Falcao


United certainly did not find Navas reluctant to join them. The Costa Rican seemed to justify their belief in him when he contact them today disappointed to find that the move was in jeopardy and asking what could be done to resurrect it.

United are confident that De Gea will be won around to throw himself into United’s Premier League and Champions League campaign this season. The need to prove himself ready for the Spain side at Euro 2016 and what is described by United insiders as the player’s own immaculate conduct in recent weeks both lead the club to feel there will be no recriminations between the No 1 and Van Gaal.