It has been a farcical last 24 hours at Old Trafford and there could yet be more drama in store ahead of the close of the transfer window for English clubs on Tuesday. Still, it would take something special to match the unpredictability of Monday, when David de Gea finally looked set to make his move to Real Madrid, with Keylor Navas moving in the opposite direction, only for the deal to break down at the last moment.
After failing to make the deadline to register players with the Spanish league on Monday night, both clubs have subsequently entered a public blame game. United have insisted that they did their part and it was computer issues on Real Madrid’s end that caused the deadline not to be met. Real Madrid hit back sharply with a 10-point statement outlining their stance that the costly delay was caused by those at Old Trafford.
Wherever the truth lies, it leaves Manchester United with a goalkeeper who clearly wanted away and has not been played this season because manager Louis van Gaal deemed him not to be in the right frame of mind. It now remains to be seen whether the deal will now happen in January, or when his contract expires next summer or even not at all. In the meantime Van Gaal and the United board must decide whether the Spain goalkeeper is brought back into the first-team fold.
Manchester United will hope there is no such drama as they try to get a deal for Anthony Martial over the line. The 19-year-old forward left the France squad to fly to Manchester on Monday after United agreed a deal with Monaco thought to be worth an initial £36 million. And Sky Sports are now among the sources reporting that he has passed a medical, leaving only formalities to be completed ahead of him becoming the most expensive teenager in history.
It is an extraordinary fee for a player who has made just 51 league appearances in his career. And, given that he only recently extended his contract at Monaco, it could well represent Manchester United’s desperation to bolster an ailing attack.
Indeed, Martial may not be the only forward to arrive ahead of the 6 p.m. BST transfer deadline. On Monday, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez moved on to Bayer Leverkusen on a permanent deal, while Adnan Januzaj was loaned to Borussia Dortmund. There is also speculation that young forward James Wilson may depart on loan, which means United could potentially be left with just Martial and Wayne Rooney as their established forward options.
With time running out, United have been linked with a surprise target. The London Evening Standard reports that the Premier League giants have inquired about Queens Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin. The 26-year-old has been expected to move all summer after scoring 18 Premier League goals last season in a QPR team that were relegated to the Championship.
QPR’s £15 million asking price is so far thought to have deterred Austin's numerous suitors, but he is still expected to move ahead of the deadline. Still, after chasing the likes of Gareth Bale, Neymar and Thomas Muller this summer, a late deal for Austin would represent a significant lowering of ambitions at Old Trafford.