War of words over botched David de Gea transfer escalates
The war of words between Old Trafford and the Bernabeu escalated on Tuesday night as Manchester United robustly defended their conduct over David de Gea's botched transfer and pointed the finger at Real Madrid.
The day after De Gea's move to the Spanish capital was called off, United and Madrid blamed each other for the collapse.
Madrid fired the first shot, issuing a statement early in the afternoon which claimed delays at United's end had scuppered a deal worth £29million which would have also seen Keylor Navas head to Old Trafford.
In their 443-word statement, Madrid claimed they had to wait until Monday - deadline day in Spain - to ''open any channel of negotiation'' with United over De Gea.
Madrid claim they had to wait over eight hours for United to return the player contracts, which were sent to Old Trafford at 12:39 BST after a deal had been struck, according to the Spanish club.
Madrid added that United did not reach agreement with Navas over his part of the deal until seven minutes before the window shut.
The result, they claim, was that United did not upload the details into FIFA's Transfer Matching System (TMS) until 11pm exactly. That meant Madrid could not complete their part of the process and that is why the deal collapsed, according to the Spanish club.
United, however, insist the botched transfer was all Madrid's fault.
In their statement, United angrily rejected the idea that they left it until the last minute to decide to sell De Gea.
United also claim Madrid made several errors in the last couple of hours of the window. They claim they sent the transfer documents for both players to Madrid at 8:42pm and received them back at 10:32pm, without De Gea's ''signatory page''.
United also claim Madrid made ''major changes'' to the documentation 20 minutes before the deadline, which ''immediately put the deals at risk'', according to the 20-time English champions. United insist they had still not received the requisite documentation for Navas' transfer at this point either.
Finally, United claim they uploaded the relevant documents at 10:58pm, two minutes before the deadline.
The United statement added: ''It is our understanding that the deals couldn't happen because: Real Madrid didn't upload David's documents onto TMS (or) the Spanish league in time."
Senior sources at Old Trafford think Madrid president Florentino Perez may have had second thoughts about the deal after the club's fans expressed their dismay at the news that Navas was being used as part of the deal to lure De Gea to the Bernabeu.
In a poll of over 55,000 Real Madrid fans on the Spanish newspaper website Marca, nearly 89 per cent said they did not agree with the idea of swapping De Gea for Navas, who starred in the club's 5-0 over Real Betis on Saturday.
There is a feeling at United that the poll may have persuaded Perez to drag his heels over the transfer and stick with Navas instead.
United have played hardball with Madrid all summer. They rejected two offers for De Gea before accepting a third on Monday afternoon.
They initially wanted either Sergio Ramos or a fee of £32.6million in return for the goalkeeper.
Senior figures at Old Trafford insist they have no regrets about that stance even though they will now almost certainly lose their star goalkeeper on a free next summer.
Until then, De Gea will remain a United player. It is hard to see Madrid coming back for the Spaniard in January, particularly when they can sign the player for nothing six months later.
United are awash with cash and do not mind taking a financial hit on a player who they think would have been worth well over £70million if he were tied down to a long-term deal.
De Gea is currently training with the Spanish national side ahead of their internationals against Slovakia and Macedonia.
Next week he will return to Manchester and sources at the club insist the Spaniard's relationship with manager Louis van Gaal or the board is not beyond repair.
The club have noted that De Gea has acted like a professional throughout this saga. He has turned up to matches and watched from the stands in his club suit, and has entered the dressing room for post-match team talks.
Van Gaal must be satisfied that De Gea is able to focus properly for him to return to the starting XI, however.
United's next match takes place a week on Saturday at home to Liverpool.