The farcical collapse of a deal for David de Gea brought an ignominious end to what has been far from the smoothest transfer window for Real Madrid. A club that has become accustomed to getting their man once a target has been identified, for the Spanish giants the saga over De Gea has proven a notable and embarrassing exception.
After months of posturing, the Spain goalkeeper appeared set to finally sign for the 10-time European champions on Monday, with Keylor Navas moving in the opposite direction. But, despite everything being agreed, the paperwork failed to be submitted before the midnight deadline. It left both clubs engaging in a very public blame game and Madrid issuing a 10-point statement explaining their version of events, namely that everything had been done on their end, only for United to cause a costly delay.
Still, it leaves Real Madrid red faced and facing an uncomfortable situation over their goalkeeper slot. There had already been much controversy over the manner of Iker Casillas’ exit to Porto earlier in the summer, which at the time was thought to be the precursor to De Gea’s arrival as his successor.
Yet, having failed to meet United’s demands for a record fee for a goalkeeper, Real Madrid left it until the final day to make a formal offer. That Los Blancos ran out of time is on the face of it not a disaster, given they can in theory get De Gea in January or for nothing when his contract expires next summer. And they still have a very competent goalkeeper in Navas, who saved a penalty against Real Betis on Saturday, as well as backup Kiko Casilla, after his arrival from Espanyol.
It is far from ideal, though, given that Navas is only too aware of Real Madrid’s willingness to trade him in for De Gea. And Madrid have already had to rebuild a relationship with one player this summer, with Ramos being convinced to sign a new contract after initially asking to leave.
There has also been much speculation over the future of Karim Benzema, after strong reports that new Madrid boss Rafa Benitez wanted to alter the attacking formula and that the club really wanted Sergio Agüero, only to find Manchester City unsurprisingly unwilling to do business.
Instead, Real Madrid’s only major additions have been to areas of their team that didn’t particularly appear in need of strengthening. Danilo was the first to arrive, with the Brazilian now competing with Spain internationals Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Arbeloa for the right-back berth.
Last month, Mateo Kovacic surprisingly became Real Madrid’s biggest transfer of the summer in a 35 million euros deal from Inter Milan. A 21-year-old with a huge amount of talent, the Serbia international is, though, another ball-playing midfielder to join the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. He has effectively replaced Asier Illarramendi, who has returned to Real Sociedad and Lucas Silva, who has gone on loan to Marseille. But, other than Casemiro, who has returned from a loan spell at Porto, the midfield still looks to be lacking a more physical competitor, having allowed Sami Khedira to join Juventus.
Further forward, Real Madrid do now have an abundance of attacking players, following the signing of Lucas Vazquez from Espanyol and the return of Denis Cheryshev from a loan spell to join stars James Rodriguez, Isco Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. But, with the end of Javier "Chicharito" Hernández’s loan spell, Benzema is the only natural striker in the squad, meaning Ronaldo, Bale and Jesé Rodríguez could all spend significant time playing through the middle this season.
It was a window where there was no "Galactico" signing, and after which Real Madrid are left hoping that Rafa Benitez is able to balance a still hugely talented squad, while maximizing the effectiveness of the two most expensive players in history, Bale and Ronaldo.