Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea thought he'd finally sealed his dream move to Real Madrid on Aug. 31, but a farcical mix-up involving transfer documents ensured the deal's collapse, keeping the Spain international at Old Trafford.
Jorge Mendes, the player's agent, was confident an agreement would be struck before the summer window closed. The two clubs were thought to have settled on a deal that would've seen Keylor Navas move in the opposite direction, but key documents were not received by the LFP prior to the deadline.
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Manchester United, De Gea Enter Contract Discussions; No Winter Bid on Table
Thursday, Sept. 10
Manchester United opened contract talks with De Gea, according to BBC Sport.
"In January we are not going to sign De Gea," Perez told Radio Cope, relayed by Ed Malyon of the Mirror.
On Sept. 3, Perez said he "can't understand" why United waited until the final 12 hours of the transfer window to discuss a deal for De Gea, per AS. He added the deal was completed in 30 minutes, but it took United eight hours to send the documents over.
LFP President Comments on De Gea Saga
Wednesday, Sept. 2
LFP president Javier Tebas said that while his organisation had discussions with Real Madrid about De Gea, there was no chance of a deal getting done because paperwork had been submitted after the deadline, per Juan Jimenez and Alfredo Matilla of AS:
As far as the LFP is concerned there is no David de Gea case because the player has not been registered for the competition and the necessary documentation was not presented in the stipulated time.
I had a conversation with Real Madrid, they rang me on Monday night. They gave me their explanations but in the knowledge that the deadline had been missed. They know how it works. I didn't feel any pressure. Madrid explained their situation after midnight. I understood their position and that of the player but there was nothing I could do.
They didn't call to ask for any kind of special treatment because Madrid understand the rules.
Tebas continued, saying he stayed out of the conflict between Madrid and United:
I am a lawyer and I know that in these situations there are two, three or four versions of events. As far as La Liga is concerned it is a handicap that De Gea is not here. I would have liked to see him play in La Liga because he is a Spanish goalkeeper and an excellent one but due to the circumstances that unfolded it wasn't to be.
What happened, as far as I know, is closest to the version given by Real Madrid.
Madrid Blame United for Failure to Send LFP Paperwork, Red Devils Respond
Tuesday, Sept. 1
An official statement from Real Madrid on the collapse of the deal to sign De Gea read:
Manchester United did not agree to open any negotiations over the federative rights of David De Gea until yesterday morning.
Real Madrid, despite the difficulties entailed in carrying out a deal of these characteristics on the final day of registration, agreed to initiate these talks.
[...] Real Madrid, having obtained the signatures of the players De Gea and Keylor Navas, sent the British club the aforementioned signed contracts at 23:32 Spanish time, before waiting to receive the final documents signed by Manchester United.
Manchester United reached a final agreement with the representatives of Keylor Navas at 23:53 Spanish time, and it is at this point that the contracts were sent to the player to be signed.
Manchester United entered the details of the David De Gea deal, not those of Keylor Navas, at 00:00 Spanish time, simultaneously sending Real Madrid the signed transfer contracts. Real Madrid received this complete documentation at 00:02 and attempted to access TMS, but it was now closed.
At 00:26 Spanish time, FIFA's TMS invited Real Madrid to fill out the details of the player David De Gea, as the period of registration in England remains open until today. Real Madrid, in view of the possible eventuality of an administrative dispute over the player's transfer, decided to send the contracts to the Liga de Futbol Profesional, despite the knowledge that the deadline had passed.
In short, Real Madrid did everything necessary at all times to complete both transfers.
Following Madrid's statement, United released a rebuttal to the Spanish club's claims:
• Manchester United did not seek contact from Real Madrid for the sale of David. David is a key member of our squad and the club’s preference was not to sell. • No offer was received for David until yesterday.
• At lunchtime yesterday, Real Madrid made its first offer to buy David. A deal was agreed between the clubs, which included Navas being transferred to Old Trafford. The deals were dependent on each other.
• In the last several hours of the process, with Navas at the Real Madrid training ground, Real Madrid were controlling the documentation processes of David, Navas and Real Madrid. Manchester United was in control only of the documentation of Manchester United.
• Manchester United sent transfer documents for both players to Real Madrid at 2042 BST. David’s documentation was returned by Real Madrid to Manchester United without the signatory page at 2232 BST.
• At 22:40 BST, minutes before the deadline, major changes to the documentation came through to Manchester United which immediately put the deals at risk. • Only at 2255 BST were the documents that are needed to cancel David’s contract received by Manchester United from Real Madrid.
• At this point Navas’ documentation was still not returned by Real Madrid.
• At 2258 BST, the transfer agreement was sent back by Manchester United, uploaded onto TMS and accepted – all before the deadline.
• It is our understanding that the deals couldn’t happen because:
- Real Madrid didn’t upload David’s documents onto TMS in time (Manchester United did)
- Real Madrid didn’t upload David’s documents to the Spanish league in time, per reports it seems some 28 minutes after the deadline • The fact that Manchester United filed the papers on time was acknowledged by the Football Association, who offered to support that claim in any discussions with FIFA. The Club offered this assistance, as well as its own timestamped documents to Real Madrid but they have chosen not to go down this route.
Manchester United acts appropriately and efficiently in its transfer dealings. The Club is delighted that its fan-favourite double Player of the Year, David de Gea, remains a Manchester United player.
United said they have documentation that proves their paperwork was sent on time, according to James Ducker of the Times.
United Accepted Cash-Plus-Player Deal
Monday, Aug. 31
Prior to the last-minute drama, Eurosport UK passed along a report from Marca stating United had agreed to sell De Gea for a fee of €30 to €35 million, noting that Navas would come to Old Trafford as part of the agreement.
Balague reported the fee was €40 million and Navas accepted the switch to Manchester United, but ultimately, the deal failed to take place.