United rap Real Madrid over De Gea transfer debacle
Manchester United last night 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 Real issuing a statement suggesting United were to blame for the failure to register De Gea's move in time with La Liga.
But a bemused 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, Monday.
There is a sense of astonishment at United about the way the deal started to unravel on Monday. Despite months of conjecture, Real did not make any contact about De Gea until the final 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 De Gea.
United reiterated that they were not selling and it was only after the low initial bid - €15m plus Navas - had been rejected 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.
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 Real insisting that Navas 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 also disappeared out of telephone contact with United until such a time that it was too late to fly the 28-year-old to Manchester for a medical and Real sent De Gea's transfer document to United minus the signatory page at 10.32pm, less than half an hour before the deadline and De Gea's transfer documentation being sent to United again - only this time with a significant change which made it far less attractive to United.
This "mark-up", certainly enough to be a deal-breaker, reached United with 20 minutes to go before the transfer window closed. United also pointed out that Real only sent the documents needed to cancel De Gea's contract at the Red Devils at 10.55pm.
There was a sense of bafflement around Old Trafford as to why Real might not want the deal to progress - which increased when Real did not take up United's offer of FA support yesterday, and instead quickly conceded defeat.
It isn't 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 president Florentino Perez. To have withdrawn directly at that stage could have alienated Real from De Gea and jeopardised attempts to buy him next summer.
United are confident that De Gea will throw himself into their ongoing campaign. The need to prove himself worthy of a Euro 2016 spot for Spain, and what is described by insiders as the player's immaculate conduct in recent weeks, lead the club to feel there will be no recriminations between the No 1 and Louis van Gaal.
Meanwhile, United completed the signing of 19-year-old Anthony Martial from Monaco for £36m after he passed a medical yesterday.
aaron Lennon has joined Everton from Tottenham after spending last season on loan at Goodison Park.
Elsewhere, Joleon Lescott completed his move from West Brom to Aston Villa.