Manchester United have hit back at claims they held up the deal that saw David de Gea's prospective move to Real Madrid collapse. The La Liga giants were expected to complete their long-awaited move for the Spain international before Spain's transfer window deadline at midnight on Monday 30 August.
But the reported £29m deal – which would have also seen Keylor Navas move to Old Trafford in the other direction – collapsed at the eleventh hour. On Tuesday 1 September, Real Madrid produced a 10-point statement criticising United for sending incomplete data to Fifa's Transfer Matching System and taking eight hours to make minor changes to their agreement.
Madrid argued those delays meant they were unable to register de Gea with the LFP - the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional, Spanish football's governing body - before the closure of the Spanish window, effectively laying all the blame at the feet of the Premier League side.
But United have strongly denied those accusations. Their statement read: "Manchester United notes Real Madrid's statement on the attempt to sign David De Gea and sell Navas to Manchester United. The club feels compelled to provide some clarification with the following facts. It went onto explain that:
- 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 20:42 BST. David's documentation was returned by Real Madrid to Manchester United without the signatory page at 22:32 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 22:55 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 22:58 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.
United conclude by saying they have the backing of the Football Association in proving they acted correctly in the handling of the transfer, adding they have already offered Real Madrid their own timestamped documents as proof of their proper conduct, an offer they claim was ignored by the Spanish giants.
The collapse of the deal will see de Gea remain at the club until at least January 2016, with United perhaps rubbing salt in Real Madrid wounds by adding at the end of their statement: "The club is delighted that its fan-favourite double Player of the Year, David de Gea, remains a Manchester United player."