Mason Greenwood joined Spanish club Getafe on Premier League deadline day.
The loan move to the La Liga side comes after the forward had been subject to an internal investigation by Manchester United since February, when the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) discontinued its case against him for attempted rape, assault and coercive control. Greenwood denied all the alleged offences.
United confirmed on August 21 that they had abandoned their plan to bring the 21-year-old back into the first-team squad, with the switch to Spain confirmed on Friday night.
Mason Greenwood and Manchester United: The U-turn – what happened and why
Here, Guillermo Rai answers the key questions around the club Greenwood is joining as he seeks to rebuild his career.
Located in the south of Madrid, about 16 kilometres from the city centre, the stadium Coliseum Alfonso Perez is home to Getafe CF. It is one of the youngest teams in the Primera Division (in theory it was re-founded in 1983 after a previous incarnation of the club was liquidated the previous season), but is not without history.
Despite living under the long shadow of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, Getafe have managed to make a name for themselves and become competitive in La Liga.
They were promoted to Spain’s top flight for the first time in 2004 and since then they have only been relegated once (in the 2015-16 campaign), competing in 19 campaigns out of a possible 20.
This is quite an achievement and has helped them grow in the past 10 years, with the club roughly tripling its salary spend from 2013 to around €69m (£59.2m; $74.5m) now, boosted by the improvement in the television rights distribution.
But even before this, Getafe have been competitive in Europe, which led them to play against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2008. It was a golden era, in which they had also managed to reach the final of the Copa del Rey in 2007 and 2008.
In 2020, Jose Bordalas (a sort of Spanish Diego Simeone — the combative Argentinian who manages Atletico), who had been appointed manager in 2016, took the club to the Europa League round of 16. They finished second in their group and then beat Ajax, before losing to Inter Milan.
But beyond the leadership of Bordalas — who is in his second spell at the club after taking charge of Valencia in 2021-22 before returning this season — the growth of the club is in huge part down to its president, Angel Torres, who was responsible for co-ordinating the signing of Greenwood.
Who runs the club?
Torres is a self-made businessman who made his fortune in the world of construction and in 2002 was persuaded by the mayor of Getafe to take over the club, which was struggling financially.
With no experience whatsoever, Torres — who is a Real Madrid fan — was advised by football people and quickly the project took over his life. He is on call 24 hours a day, even now, meaning the structure is very simple, deeply personal and family-oriented.
However, in recent years and especially in recent months, boosted by budget growth, Getafe have tried to reach more fans.
Hello “𝐚𝐳𝐮𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬”! 👋🥳
Welcome everyone to the new official english @GetafeCF account. 🇬🇧
— Getafe C.F. English (@GetafeCFen) August 30, 2023
But they still have a long way to go. This summer they opened their first Twitter account in English and the signing of Greenwood has helped them to add more than 12,000 followers in just a few hours.
What is their reputation in Spain?
It is a relatively new club, compared with the juggernauts of Spanish football — Real Madrid and Barcelona — so it has no storied history or reputation for anything exceptional. However, despite the stadium being situated in an industrial area of Madrid, around half an hour’s drive from the rebuilt Bernabeu, with a more modest infrastructure, the club has not stopped growing.
Unlike Rayo Vallecano, which leans to the political left, its ultras, the Comandos Azules, a small group, are linked to the far-right.
But the scarce institutional representation has been down to Torres, who, like Enrique Cerezo (of Atletico) always has a straightforward, direct and, conservative tone. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t launched daring campaigns which have garnered attention.
In 2011 they sought to attract members by launching an advert pretending to take aim at their relatively small fanbase. They encouraged male fans to donate sperm so more fans could be bred for the club. A short film, shot in the style of a 1970s porn film was produced, called “Zombies Calientes de Getafe” (Horny Zombies of Getafe), was delivered to sperm donor clinics in the local area.
The club was also forced to apologise in 2007 after using Biblical references in a television advert to attract season ticket holders. The advert showed, among others, Christ on the cross, Moses in the wilderness and Adam in the Garden of Eden, with them all denying their devotion to God and insisting they would only sacrifice themselves for their team.
“It wasn’t our intention, but if someone has been offended the most I can do is apologise, but nothing more,” Torres said.
What have they said about signing Greenwood?
When asked about the signing of the forward following the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday night, Bordalas said: “It is too delicate a situation to trivialise this issue. Everyone knows what happened and the appropriate measures were taken. Everyone knows how it ended; with a non-conviction.
“He is a footballer of a very high level and comes to Getafe with enormous enthusiasm. For our part, we want to help him.
🎉🎉🎉 𝐈𝐍𝐂𝐑𝐄𝐃𝐈𝐁𝐋𝐄 transfer market end!!
Mason Greenwood signs for Getafe CF 😱
— Getafe C.F. English (@GetafeCFen) September 1, 2023
“We all know the potential he has, he is a very young kid. Because of the potential he has, if he improves his soccer, he can improve.
“We talked to him and he wanted to improve his status and we can help him in that sense.”
The club has not released an official statement and did not comment when contacted by The Athletic.
What has been the wider reaction in Spain?
In the media and in Spanish society in general, the Greenwood case has not created much attention. While some on social media have criticised the decision, others have supported it and, at Bordalas’ press conference after the end of the transfer window only two media outlets asked him about the Manchester United striker, and both were international (The Athletic and The Guardian).
For that very reason, in the early hours of the morning when Greenwood’s signing was confirmed, a dozen teenagers eagerly awaited and celebrated his arrival. Yet Torres recently spoke out on another controversial issue, calling for the resignation of the president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, for his controversial kiss with Jenni Hermoso following Spain winning the Women’s World Cup.
Rubiales provisionally suspended by FIFA for Hermoso kiss
What sort of side is Greenwood joining?
Their run to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2008 came under manager Michael Laudrup, with an attractive style of football. However, Bordalas’ system is more physical and compact — as Jude Bellingham experienced on Saturday night — and they are set up to frustrate teams with little possession, rather than dominate games. They are 14th in La Liga having taken four points from four matches.
What are the chances of Getafe turning this loan into a permanent deal?
Financially, Getafe are a sustainable club that has not operated on the basis of losses. However, an untimely cruciate ligament injury to forward Enes Unal, who was to be sold for €24m plus €6m in add-ons to Benfica, upset the club’s plans during the transfer market.
That has limited them and to complete the squad, they closed three last-minute loan deals: Diego Rico, Oscar Rodriguez and Mason Greenwood.
Given that nothing will be charged for Greenwood’s season-long loan and that Getafe will only make a small contribution to his salary, they would need to find room in their salary cap to make him a long-term contract.
For the time being, they do not want to rush into anything. They want to see how the forward adapts, they know he has not played for 15-16 months, they want to give him a good stage to play again and then, if all goes well, they will try to talk to Manchester United to keep him on loan.
In fact, tomorrow, Greenwood arrives in Getafe accompanied by United employees and Getafe knows that, like any other loan, both the player and they will have to report back to the club of origin.
(Top photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)