The deadline arrived, but the announcement never did. In a surreal ending to the transfer window in Spain, the much-anticipated move of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea to Real Madrid never materialized.
The clubs had struck a deal that would see Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas move the other way, but it apparently broke down because the necessary paperwork wasn’t submitted on time.
Madrid and United negotiated late into the evening on Monday after talks that dragged on for several weeks, but the clubs failed to register the new contract with the Spanish league offices before midnight local time.
La Liga confirmed Tuesday that De Gea was not among the players who transferred by Monday’s deadline, but did not say whether Real Madrid actually attempted to register the player or if something went wrong to keep the deal from happening.
The bizarre breakdown quickly became the object of fan derision and mockery. It left many wondering what exactly went wrong – and how two of world football’s biggest clubs could mess things up so badly.
Real Madrid issued a statement blaming United for the debacle.
It said the English club took too long to review the transfer contracts and was late submitting the required documentation into FIFA’s electronic transfer system. In its lengthy statement, Real Madrid also blamed United for delaying the start of the transfer talks.
”Manchester United did not open any means of negotiations for David De Gea’s rights until (Monday) morning,” the Spanish club said. ”Despite the difficulties involving such a negotiation in the last day of the transfer window, Real Madrid accepted to start these talks.”
Under FIFA rules, both clubs must send in all the required documentation to its electronic transfer system before they can register the new contract with the national federation. FIFA said it could not comment on whether both clubs had submitted the information correctly because all transfer documents are confidential.
Real Madrid said United finalized the deal with Navas seven minutes before the deadline, and only submitted the information on the De Gea transfer exactly at midnight. The Spanish club said it only had access to that information two minutes past the deadline.
”Real Madrid did everything possible to complete these transfers,” the club said.
Manchester United did not immediately answer messages seeking comment.
Spanish newspaper Marca said Navas, who had been reluctant to leave Real Madrid, arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu with his agent to finalize details of the contract with United just minutes before the deadline.
Real Madrid fans had been praising Navas recently, while many criticized the club’s decision to try to sign De Gea. The crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday loudly chanted Navas’ name after he saved a penalty in the 5-0 rout of Real Betis in the Spanish league.
It was unclear whether the clubs could or would appeal to league authorities or FIFA in an attempt to push the deal through. The English transfer window remained open through Tuesday.
The failure to finish the deal should create a difficult situation for the De Gea, who could be forced to return to United despite having been dropped from the team by manager Louis van Gaal as the talks dragged on. Van Gaal had said the Spanish goalkeeper had his heart set on a move back to his hometown.