(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Florentino Perez used to have a reputation for "always getting his man."
The Real Madrid president prides himself on signing a high-profile 'galactico' star every summer. James Rodriguez, Angel di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Owen, David Beckham, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo - all these greats were persuaded to come to the Estadio Bernabeu by the profligate, controversial Perez.
But Perez - who has long since dispensed with a sporting director and does the buying and selling himself - now he seems to have lost his killer touch.
His plan for this summer was to replace veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas - with whom he has never got on well - with David de Gea of Manchester United.
Easier said than done. Casillas finally left for Porto in July, kicking and screaming, amid massive fan protests against Perez. Then United manager Louis Van Gaal refused to allow De Gea to leave Old Trafford, despite his contract only having one more year to run.
Van Gaal's obstinacy led to the bizarre, almost ridiculous events of Monday night, when United and Real finally agreed to swap De Gea for Keylor Navas plus around 20 million euros (22.4 million dollars) - but then, according to Real, sent the relevant documents to the Spanish professional clubs association just after the midnight deadline.
Perez was left red-face and furious, muttering about the discrepancies between the Spanish and English deadlines, and threatening to take the case to FIFA.
Meanwhile, De Gea was left under the orders of Van Gaal, and Navas was left at Real, knowing that Perez had tried his best to get rid of him.
"Ridiculous!" was the headline in sports daily Marca, which has gone from blindly supporting Perez to harshly criticising him in recent years.
"This is a pathetic situation, really pathetic," commented radio station Cadena SER yesterday.
"Perez has really blundered. He has made it obvious to the whole world that he wants De Gea instead of Navas, but now he has to put up with the latter - at least until January."
For the first time in more than 30 years, Real have made no summer signings of note, something that the 'madridista' fans will surely hold against Perez when Rafa Benitez' team stumbles.
Last week, Perez raised eyebrows by selling midfielder Asier Illaramendi back to Real Sociedad at half price after two years, and by sending the expensive Lucas Silva on loan to Marseille after just eight months and three appearances.
The only consolation for Perez is that Barcelona are unable to field their two new signings - Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan - until January because of their FIFA signing ban for having underage foreign youngsters in their youth scheme.
With the twin giants struggling to make signings, Atletico Madrid have taken over as the big spenders, bringing in Jackson Martinez, Luciano Vietto, Yannick Carrasco and Stefan Savic - and bringing back Felipe Luis and Oliver.
"Atletico have worked very hard this summer to rejuvenate and refresh their squad. Their options in attack are now very diverse and promising," commented Cadena SER.
Another club that has worked hard, as per usual, is Sevilla, who have livened up their attack with Michael Krohn-Dehli, Ciro Immobile and Fernando Llorente.
Meanwhile, neighbours Real Betis are celebrating the return of prodigal son Joaquin, after nine years' absence.
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