Is David de Gea’s new contract a rare victory for Ed Woodward?


woodward de gea perez

What a difference two weeks makes. David de Gea was minutes away from joining Real Madrid. A stage had been built at the Bernabéu to introduce Florentino Pérez’s latest Gálactico, and the Spanish international had a suit ready for the occasion.

A couple of weeks and a few rounds of finger-pointing later, Spanish Dave has signed a new four-year deal with the option of a fifth to keep him in Manchester.

DE GEA’S SAGA: Close | No | He said | She said | Make up | New deal

No doubt champagne corks will be popping at Old Trafford, while Pérez’s sangria may have the taste of bitter tears.

Pérez has been doing the media rounds discussing numerous issues as well as absolving Real Madrid of any wrongdoing. During his interview blitz, he went out of his way to say that the Bernabéu club a.) would not be bidding for de Gea in January, b.) did not agree to pay the Spanish international €5 million if they failed to sign him in the summer window and c.), intimated that there will be no further bids, and that De Gea would in all likelihood sign a new deal at Old Trafford.

Lo and behold, his prediction was correct, with de Gea extending his contract and completing a thoroughly remarkable U-turn.

Whilst Pérez has been putting forward El Real’s version of events, Spanish paper El Confidencial reported a breakdown in the relationship between the him and de Gea’s representative, Jorge Mendes. Mendes, it was reported, was so ‘disgusted’ with Pérez’s behavior during the de Gea transfer that the Portuguese super agent does not want to work with the Real Madrid president again. All in all, it’s a pretty spectacular tiff.

Over at Old Trafford, de Gea’s contract extension is welcome news for the club after a round of negative headlines over the fallout of the Spanish international’s failed transfer, the size of the Anthony Martial deal and recent reports that senior players have confronted Louis van Gaal over the training regime and the Dutchman’s approach to man-management.

MARTIAL ARRIVES: Deadline day deal | Rooney’s support | Van Gaal admits price ‘ridiculous’

More than anything, the biggest victor in this saga is perhaps the most maligned figure at Old Trafford, Ed Woodward.

Over the summer window, van Gaal stressed that it was Woodward who would handle de Gea’s future. This revelation followed doubts about De Gea’s mental readiness and focus by the Dutch manager, which culminated in the Spanish international being dropped for the opening matches of this season. Indeed, it looked like van Gaal was resigned to losing de Gea, speaking about the attraction of moving back to Madrid amid rumours of a frosty relationship between the Old Trafford number one and goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek. With all corners of the soccer world accepting that De Gea would move to Madrid, the only figure who seemingly didn’t want to play ball was Woodward.

The executive vice chairman played a high-risk game with Real Madrid, first demanding that Sergio Ramos be part of any deal for de Gea and then insisting on a world record fee once the defender signed a new deal at the Bernabéu. When United did eventually agreed on a transfer the package,one  which included Costa Rica international Keylor Navas, de Gea valued at £29 million.

Conventional wisdom suggested the best course of action for United was to sell De Gea, receive a fee and then recruit another keeper, but Woodward took a far riskier approach, given that De Gea only had one year left on his contract. And he has been rewarded.

De Gea has ensured that any uncertainty surrounding his future has been removed by signing a new deal, and he certainly had numerous reasons to extend his contract. Firstly, he’ll be earning £200,000-per-week – a huge increase on his old wage. From a playing standpoint, de Gea needs to be involved in competitive matches if he wants to be the first choice for Spain in Euro 2016. Signing an extension with United will dampen any transfer natter and allow him to focus on his soccer. And on a personal level, he may very well feel let down by Real Madrid. Initially, rumors were swirling that de Gea blamed United for the collapse of the transfer, but if that were the case, he would have seen out his contract rather than sign an extension.

In his interview, Pérez made it sound like Madrid was doing de Gea a favor, stating:

“We had to make an effort in order for the player not to feel abandoned. They (United) tried until the end to renew his deal and only decided to sell him 12 hours before (the transfer deadline). We had a commitment towards him, they (United) told us the cost (of the transfer) 12 hours before (the deadline) and the rest we’ve already spoken about. We did our job as best we could. We didn’t get there on time because Manchester did not have the necessary experience to undertake these things on the final day, as was the case with Fábio Coentrão.”

Pérez, if anything, misjudged Woodward’s mettle, assuming that United would come to El Real to initiate any transfer for de Gea to Madrid. Pérez got his fingers burned and didn’t enjoy the sensation.

The intricacies of the deal haven’t been revealed. There’s talk that there is a buyout clause should El Real (or another club) decide to come in for de Gea. What Woodward has achieved with his stubborn stance is, at the very least, resale value. In the best case scenario, he’s secured the future of one of finest goalkeepers in the world.

Who would have thought this possible at the beginning of the transfer window?

During his tenure at Old Trafford, Woodward has received a lot of flak (justifiably so, in some circumstances), but in this case he has achieved the seemingly unthinkable. Not only has he retained the services of de Gea, but has convinced the Spanish international to extend his stay at Old Trafford. For that Woodward deserves credit.

The summer window may not have been ideal for United but it looks a whole lot better now than it did two weeks ago.

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One Response

  1. Tony Butterworth September 11, 2015

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