Manchester United fans have been on something of an emotional roller coaster over the last 48 hours. David de Gea looked certain to leave Old Trafford for Real Madrid, and then his deal collapsed just before Monday night’s Spanish deadline. Tuesday brought much hope of a marquee signing, but the only men through the door at Carrington on Tuesday were an unproven Frenchman and a defender from Newport County.
Here, we try to explain what has been going on at Old Trafford over the past couple of days.
Q: Is Real Madrid’s bid for David de Gea dead in the water?
A: Yes. Well, for now at least. The requisite documents were not lodged with FIFA and the Spanish authorities before the European deadline of 11 p.m. British Standard Time on Monday, so a proposed £29 million deal — which included Keylor Navas coming to United — is off.
Q: How do Real Madrid feel about that?
A: They are not very happy, unsurprisingly. Madrid president Florentino Perez staked his reputation, to a certain extent, onde Gea. He was right at the top of Perez’s transfer wishlist this summer, but de Gea will now stay at United. Madrid blame United for delaying the deal, and United say it was Madrid who got the paperwork wrong.
Q: Why did Perez not get the deal done earlier, then?
A: Good question. United made their position to Madrid clear earlier this summer. United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told Perez that he would only sell De Gea if he received Sergio Ramos in return or a fee of £32.6 million – the current world record for a goalkeeper. Madrid had the resources to buy de Gea after Ramos renewed his deal but waited until Monday lunchtime before coming to United with a serious offer.
Q: What now for de Gea and Navas?
A: De Gea will return to Manchester next week following his commitments with the Spanish national side. To borrow one of van Gaal’s oft-used phrases, he will have to gain “match rhythm” before being considered for first-team duty – and that probably means game time with the under-21s. Sergio Romero is currently in possession of the gloves at United.
Navas, meanwhile, will be Madrid’s number one for the whole season, unless they return with another bid for de Gea in January.
Q: What are the chances of Madrid signing him in the January window?
A: Slim, on the face of it. By then, presumably de Gea will have played in the Champions League and will therefore be cup-tied. Plus, they know they will be able to sign him on a free transfer next summer.
Q: Who have United signed this window then?
Q: Aren’t you missing someone?
A: Oh, yes. United also completed the shock signing of 17-year-old Regan Poole from League Two side Newport on Tuesday evening. Newport manager Terry Butcher knows a thing or two about how to be a good defender, and he seems hopeful that the Wales under-17 international has a bright future ahead of him. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for him to progress at such a magnificent club,” the former England center half said.
Q: Who is Martial?
A: A 19-year-old Frenchman who United signed for a fee in excess of £36 million. Given that he has only one year’s worth of top-flight experience in France with Monaco, it is a huge gamble. Martial, who can play across the front line, scored 10 goals in 44 appearances for Monaco last season, however, and is confident he can be a success at Old Trafford. “I know there is pressure but I’m ready for it,” he said in his first interview after signing for the club.
Q: Who has left?
A: Seventeen players in total either permanently or on loan deals. They are Tom Cleverley, Nani, Will Keane, Tom Thorpe, Robin van Persie, Reece James, Ben Amos, Ben Pearson, Joe Rothwell, Rafael, Angel di Maria, Jonny Evans, Saidy Janko, Tyler Blackett, Adnan Januzaj, Javier Hernandez and Anders Lindegaard.
Q: So are United ready to challenge for the title now?
A: It looks like United are still a fair distance behind Manchester City in terms of quality and strength in depth. One source at the club likened the rebuilding process since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure to running up a hill, pausing every summer for supplies. The competition is now incredibly fierce at the top of the league on the pitch and in the transfer market because of the recent £5.14 billion television deal. Maybe next year.
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