Ultimately, you could argue, no one came out as a winner in the Navas and De Gea summer transfer debacle between two of football’s titans, Real Madrid and Manchester United.
Louis van Gaal and Manchester United know that their Spanish goalkeeper doesn’t want to play for them and wants to be in Madrid. Keylor Navas knows that, despite breaking the record for the most clean sheets at the start of a season (six), Real Madrid wanted him out and De Gea in.
The clubs themselves conducted their business like a pair of teenagers; pointing fingers, not taking any responsibility for their own actions and blaming everyone for the mess.
In reality, it was all a bit of posturing and posing on the part of both sides. Real Madrid were never going to pay Manchester United the 30-odd-million euros to get him in the summer. They had courted the player privately and terms were agreed on a contract through his agent. It made sense to make a play for De Gea in the media during the summer knowing that he wanted to join them and with just a year left on his contract, force Manchester United to make a decision; be stubborn and see out his contract, or sell him and claw some money back on their investment.
As we now know, this was destined to end in a mash up of ‘he said-she said’, questions over the format of a fax or email proposal and the paperwork not being submitted by Real Madrid to the RFEF until 30 minutes after the Spanish transfer window had closed.
At the centre of this entire furore were the two players: De Gea in Madrid waiting in a hotel apartment with his girlfriend, having purchased a new suit especially for his unveiling the following day; and Keylor Navas, in a Madrid airport lounge waiting for the instruction to fly to Manchester to make good his part in the deal, an enforced move to Manchester United.
Subsequently, De Gea was understandably shocked and upset that the deal failed to happen, but what of Keylor Navas? With club icon Iker Casillas having left for FC Porto, Navas finally had his chance to achieve his dream in becoming the first choice goalkeeper for Real Madrid, but instead was being told that he was being a part-exchange for De Gea.
In an interview with Cadena SER’s ‘El Larguero’ programme this past Tuesday (22nd September 2015) Navas spoke with José Ramón de la Morena in detail about the saga and how it had affected him:
How did you take the whole De Gea affair?
Obviously, I don’t read much of what’s put out in the press but I always get to hear things. I always have faith in my own abilities; and I have always thought that if something like this happened, I would fight to win my place with whoever my team mates were. But hearing such things isn’t something which brings you much happiness.
Did you receive any news on the matter before August 31st?
What did your agent, Ricardo Cabañas, say to you? Things took a turn around four or five o’clock. The club called us and said that the situation had changed. By that time, late in the afternoon, we had an idea about what might happen my agent said he would come straight away from Valencia. My daughters went back home. We’re a family and I swear that none of us are motivated by money. I was in contact with my agent and there was something said which wasn’t good.
By 5pm how was your wife taking all of this?
At that point I wasn’t going anywhere. Later, I could see which direction things were going in and I told my wife that God would decide what would happen.
Were you happy with the idea of joining Manchester United?
I didn’t want to leave Madrid. Since the day I signed for Madrid, it has always been my dream to be here and I didn’t want to leave.
Did you suffer?
Yes, of course I did. There were lots of good things but I felt a little uncertain about it all – for not having even played even three games in a row and those kinds of things affect you.
Did you actually get on the plane?
Yes, I was waiting in the executive lounge at the airport which is what they told me to do.
Can you tell us what it felt like when you were told that you’d be staying?
Every five minutes the situation would change: I’d be told to go the airport, then to stay put. Nothing was clear. I couldn’t relax until everything had been cleared up.
Were you able to sleep that night?
After all that had happened I went to my bedroom and started to think about it all and only then did it hit home … That was when I started to draw conclusions – it’s something which I hope I never have to go through again.
Did you go to training the next day?
I cried about it with my wife but I needed something else to get it out of my system. I had a conversation (with José Ángel and Florentino) and went to Valdebebas, put on my gloves and went out onto the training pitch to give everything I had. A few of my team mates were there too and I remember speak to a few of them. The others were with their national teams and they sent me messages saying that they wanted me to stay.
You came out of the meeting with tears in your eyes, is that right?
Yes, every one of us has our own way of showing things. I felt a lot of things deep inside, things which I wanted from myself and little by little, I’ve done them. It was a process of exorcising all of my inner demons and returning to normality. Now I’m fine, I have good health and that is all I ask of God.
Interview and Translation Source: AS Newspaper. http://as.com/diarioas/2015/09/22/english/1442919005_104165.html
Winner or Loser from the De Gea Debacle?
This interview shows the impact on players when transfers go wrong.
David De Gea signed a new contract for Manchester United and is playing in the team. He knows that Real Madrid still want him and are likely to return in the summer, albeit with some hard cash now that De Gea has signed the extension.
For Keylor Navas, the future is less clear. He has been playing and, as previously mentioned, has broken the record for number of clean sheets kept by a Real Madrid goalkeeper from the start of a season — and two more records are in sight for Navas during Real Madrid’s next match against Athletic Bilbao this Wednesday night:
If he doesn’t concede inside the first 10 minutes, he’ll match Iker Casillas’s best effort at any point in a season which stands at 460 minutes without conceding. If Real Madrid hang on until 72 minutes, then he’ll beat Miguel Angel’s 40-year-old La Liga record.
In answer to my initial question, “Is he the winner or loser,” he may have broken the record, and may break the other two that are within an arm’s reach, but ultimately he loses in all of this. These record-breaking feats will make the proud Navas feel ten feet tall, but all in the knowledge in the back of his mind that he is not really wanted.
That’s what’s most unfortunate in this whole episode: a decent, god-fearing, family man playing the game he loves, for a club he has always wanted to play for, yet knows that they would have someone else in a heartbeat.
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