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Real Madrid completely failed to file De Gea's paperwork — reports

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According to Sky Sports, David de Gea might be staying at Manchester United because Real Madrid didn't get the forms in to the authorities.

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The plot, as they say, thickens. According to Sky Sports' man in Madrid, Gary Cotterill, the stalling of the David de Gea deal wasn't down to Manchester United messing about with file formats or passwords. Nor was it that Real Madrid got their paperwork in late. It's that Real Madrid didn't get their paperwork in at all.

He's citing a source in the Spanish football association, so garnish with pinches of salt and so forth. Still, if true, that's quite remarkable, and raises two possibilities:

... either Real Madrid are incompetent to a level that would baffle even Ed Woodward and Garry Cook ...

... or, more enticingly, more excitingly, more intriguingly, they never actually wanted the transfer to happen.

We're firmly in tinfoil hat territory here, but there's at least a shape to it. Suppose Real Madrid aren't that bothered about whether De Gea come this year or next, but they have to demonstrate to the player that they want him. So they agree a deal, but — oops! — it collapses at the last second. Ah well, what a shame, talk to you in January.

Obviously, the cock-up is always more likely than the conspiracy, and even if this is the case, we still suspect that Real Madrid will flex their muscles and things will just happen. But either way: oh dear.