Sun | May 28, 2017

Club rifts, failed moves, record spend

Published:Friday | September 11, 2015 | 9:00 AM


A record $1.3 billion was spent by English Premier League clubs in the recent summer transfer window.

But the most intriguing moments at the end of the frenzied trading period centred on the deals that never went through and the public quarrels between clubs.

This season - or until the January transfer window at least - some potentially unhappy players will be in teams they hoped to be leaving behind.

None more so perhaps than Spain goalkeeper David de Gea.


Manchester United knew for months that Real Madrid wanted to sign De Gea, but the Spanish giants ran out of time to get the deal done.

The collapse of the transfer sparked a day of public quarreling between two of football's wealthiest clubs over who was at fault.

United, a reluctant seller while trying to re-establish itself at the pinnacle of football, said it submitted the correct paperwork in time two minutes before the 2200 GMT cutoff to grant De Gea his dream move back home.

The 20-time English champions, who were landing Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas as part of the deal, blamed Madrid for stalling the move by making "major changes to the documentation".

In its statement, Madrid complained that United "did not open any channel of negotiation" until the day before the transfer window closed. The reason, according to United, was that Madrid did not actually submit a bid until then, despite the goalkeeper being a clear transfer target for months.

United had no reason to sell the player, despite his contract expiring at the end of the season. A sale would have given the impression of United appearing weak under the weight of mighty Madrid's pressure.

Now Old Trafford can unexpectedly welcome back its star player, who did not play in the opening six games of the season as the transfer saga trudged along without a conclusion.

De Gea is now one of the few surviving members of the squad left by Alex Ferguson when he retired as United manager in 2013.

As the summer overhaul continued, United failed to land a marquee attacking signing, instead making raw 19-year-old forward Anthony Martial the world's most expensive teenager in a deal worth than $55 million.

"He has all the attributes to become a top football player. However, we need to give him time to adjust to his new environment and the rhythm of the Premier League," United manager Louis van Gaal said of his new signing.


Madrid and United ended their summer standoff by trying to conclude a deal. But in England, Everton would not even get round the table with Chelsea to consider selling defender John Stones and Tottenham was similarly rebuffed in its pursuit of West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino.

Given England's television riches, top-flight teams can no longer be pushed around by more illustrious rivals into selling their prized assets. The bottom-place club earned around $100 million from the Premier League last season and that figure could soar by a third when the new television-rights deal starts next year.

West Brom rejected a third and fourth bid from Tottenham with West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace saying that Spurs had undervalued Berahino and bemoaning how the club now faces a task "repairing the damage created by this unfortunate episode".