The failure of two of the world’s biggest football clubs – Manchester United and Real Madrid – to close David de Gea’s signing is being treated on social media as one of the biggest pranks in the modern transfer window, but amid all the confusion, both teams come out of it as losers.

The England team risk losing arguably the best goalkeeper in the world for nothing when their contract expires in July. After being kicked out of the squad by manager Louis van Gaal as the summer saga unfolded, what incentive does United’s two-time player of the year have to return to action?

For Real president Florentino Perez, who has a proud reputation for making big name signings in ‘Galactico’, the failure to reach the Spanish giant’s big transfer goal means a considerable loss of face – while reputation United general manager and negotiator Ed Woodward has surely suffered as well.

Madrid released a lengthy statement on their website on Tuesday explaining how the club had done “whatever was necessary at all times” to secure a deal that would have sent Spain international De Gea to the Bernabeu and Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas at Old Trafford before the 22:00 GMT cut-off time the night before.

According to Madrid, United did not agree to open negotiations for De Gea until Monday morning, but an agreement for the two players was “quickly made” and the contracts were sent to Manchester at 11:39 GMT.

Real claim United returned them, with minor edits, eight hours later.

Madrid say they returned the signed contracts at 9:32 p.m. GMT, then United agreed to their terms with Navas’ agent at 9:53 p.m. He says the England club then entered De Gea’s details into FIFA’s Electronic Transfer System (TMS) at 10 p.m., along with the signed contracts. .

Real say they received the documentation in 2202 – when the TMS closed because the window for non-UK European leagues had closed.

The deadline for England sides is 5:00 p.m. GMT on Tuesday and, while Los Blancos have said TMS invited the club to seize De Gea’s recording at 10:26 p.m. on Monday, they gave no indication in their statement that he had.

However, Real said they “have decided to send the contracts to the Spanish Professional League, even knowing that the deadline has already passed”.

After initially telling CNN they had no intention of responding to Real Madrid’s claims, United released a statement on Tuesday night and appeared to put the blame on the Spaniards.

United offered their own schedule and said they were “delighted” that De Gea was not going anywhere.

“The fact that Manchester United filed the documents on time was acknowledged by the Football Association, which offered to support this claim in all discussions with FIFA,” United said in the statement. “The club offered this help, along with their own time-stamped documents to Real Madrid, but they chose not to go that route.

“Manchester United are acting appropriately and efficiently in their transfer dealings. The club are delighted that their fan favorite two-time player of the year, David de Gea, remains a Manchester United player.”

Former Liverpool and Juventus star Ian Rush said a pact should have been finalized sooner.

“It should never have gone this far anyway,” he told CNN’s World Sport Tuesday. “In the end, we all knew De Gea was going to leave. Why didn’t they make the deal, why did they leave him so late?

“What is De Gea going to do? Is he playing in the Champions League for Manchester United? Is he waiting until January and then becoming a free agent this summer? Manchester United have struggled to pay the price the highest he could get for himself. “

De Gea is expected to return to his hometown – where he played for Real rivals Atletico before joining United in 2011 – since he decided not to sign a new contract at the end of last season.

United initially said Real could only sign the 24-year-old if Spain defender Sergio Ramos reversed.

When Ramos ended the uncertainty about his future by signing a new five-year contract this month and becoming the club’s captain under new coach Rafael Benitez, Woodward reportedly responded by demanding a record-breaking fee for a keeper of £ 32.6million ($ 50million) if De Gea were to leave.

As might be expected, the internet erupted with joy when reports revealed that the long-awaited deal was missed by Monday’s deadline.

Some blamed Woodward, others praised him for retaining United’s key asset, while others suggested the failure was due to a fax malfunction (prompting the question: who uses fax these days?).

It was even joked that the delay was due to United still running Windows 95 so Real staff couldn’t open the documents.

European football’s governing body UEFA has even become involved in the confusion, with its Champions League Twitter account claiming that De Gea will definitely remain at United and will be part of the club’s squad for the competition. this season. The tweet was quickly deleted – UEFA told CNN it was “posted in error”.

What now for De Gea, Navas, Real and United?

Unless either of the clubs appeal to the authorities, the players will stay where they are at least until the next transfer window opens on January 1, when De Gea is free to negotiate a pre-contractual deal. with any club.

FIFA told CNN two hours before Tuesday’s English transfer deadline: “We do not appear to have been contacted by either party in this matter.”

There will arguably be more twists and turns in this saga, which has provided more ridicule than bragging rights for two of football’s financial heavyweights.

Manchester United, meanwhile, signed young French striker Anthony Martial for £ 36million ($ 55million) on Tuesday after signing a four-year contract.

The 19-year-old joined Monaco in Ligue 1, where he has scored 15 goals in 70 appearances since arriving from Lyon in 2013.

“Anthony is a talented young forward with great potential,” said coach Van Gaal of the player, who received his first senior international call last week.

“I think it is the club for him to continue his development.”

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