David de Gea missed the decisive spot-kick in Manchester United's penalties defeat against Villarreal in the Europa League final – but things could have turned out very differently for the goalkeeper had a dodgy fax machine not cost him a move to Real Madrid in 2015.
De Gea was cruelly denied in United's clash with the Spanish club, failing to beat his opposite number from 12 yards after a staggering 21 successful penalties on the bounce.
The miss goes down as one of his lowest moments in a Red Devils shirt, almost six years since he came mightily close to leaving the club.
Back in the 2015 summer transfer window, De Gea was on the verge of completing a lucrative switch to Madrid, who had long been linked with a move for the Spanish shot-stopper beforehand.
Given there was less than a year remaining on his contract, United were resigned to losing their star goalkeeper and cashing in on him while they still could that summer – or so it seemed.
Because in the end one of the most farcical transfer failures in football history played out, with De Gea denied his dream move to the Bernabeu when Real failed to register him before the 10pm deadline.
Reports at the time suggested United had actually held up the deal due to problems with their fax machine, sparking suspicion that Old Trafford chiefs had come up with a cunning plan to keep De Gea at the club.
Los Blancos swiftly released a statement on their website insisting they had done "everything necessary in every moment" to wrap up a deal for the Spain international, which would have seen Keylor Navas head in the opposite direction to Manchester.
They claimed United did not agree to open negotiations until Monday morning, however the swap deal was "quickly reached" before contracts were sent to Manchester at 11:39am.
Real claimed these contracts were returned eight hours later and sent back signed at 9:32pm, before the Premier League club agreed terms with Navas' agent at 9:53pm and entered De Gea's details in FIFA's electronic Transfer Matching System (TMS) at 10pm.
Nevertheless, the Spanish giants said they only received the documentation at 10:02pm – two minutes after the TMS had closed when the window for non-British European leagues had shut.
United then hit back at Madrid in their own statement, claiming to have submitted all the relevant paperwork on time.
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"The fact that Manchester United filed the papers on time was acknowledged by the Football Association, who offered to support that claim in any discussions with FIFA," United said in the statement.
"The club offered this assistance, as well as its own timestamped documents to Real Madrid but they have chosen not to go down this route.
"Manchester United acts appropriately and efficiently in its transfer dealings. The club is delighted that its fan-favorite double Player of the Year, David de Gea, remains a Manchester United player."
Football's 5 longest penalty shootouts as Villarreal beat Man Utd in 11-10 epic
After missing out on his desired move to Madrid, De Gea has clinched the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League at United.
Los Blancos, on the other hand, enjoyed a historic run of three straight Champions League wins under Zinedine Zidane. What could have been, David…
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