Belfast Telegraph

Biting back: When even simplest figures don't add up

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts. With John Laverty

The back page headline screamed that Manchester United had lined up a swap deal with Real Madrid, with David de Gea going one way and Gareth Bale the other.

This is complete nonsense, of course. Typical transfer-window fodder.

It's what you'd call a two-plus-two story; add two and two together and get... well, whatever you want.

Our hack at a national tabloid had melded together two unrelated facts and, from that liaison, his 'world exclusive' was born.

Fact 1: Real Madrid are in the market for a new goalkeeper to replace Iker Casillas and their principal target is De Gea, who has 18 months of his current United deal to run.

Fact 2: Manchester United were keen to sign Bale before the Welshman opted for Real Madrid; indeed, the Red Devils actually offered more for the then Spurs player than the world record £86m the Spanish giants eventually shelled out.

Ergo, it's a fair assumption that United might still be interested in the player, and might even ask about his availability should Real come calling for De Gea this summer.

But that's a far cry from 'lining up a swap deal', and an even further yell from a world exclusive. For a start, United will try everything in their power to fend off an approach from the European champions.

Meanwhile, here's one other fact our tabloid hack didn't report this week: "I don't see myself at United. I am very happy here. I have many years left on my contract (2019). I feel the support and love of the fans at the Bernabéu..." (Gareth Bale. On Tuesday).

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