News is coming out of England during the early Wednesday morning hours that Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC have agreed in principle on a £40 million deal to bring midfielder Juan Mata to Old Trafford. The 25-year-old Spanish international has fallen out of favor with Jose Mourinho this season as he has only made 17 appearances.
Mata would most likely approve the move as he attempts to keep in top form in hopes of being selected to represent Spain in the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil — he has not appeared in a Chelsea lineup since New Year’s Day.
If this fee is accurate it will be the highest transfer fee that Manchester United has paid for a player surpassing the £30.75 million fee paid to Tottenham Hotspur in September 2008 for striker Dimitar Berbatov. With United sitting in seventh place in the English Premier League table right now, they could use an impact signing to bring some new life into the squad knowing that they will need to jump over at least three clubs just to qualify for next year’s UEFA Champions League.
The fee would also set the record for the highest transfer fee that Chelsea has ever received beating out their £24 million sale of Arjen Robben to Real Madrid in 2007.
This transfer seems to be confusing to all even with the inflated fee; why would a club want to sell a player who has earned 32 caps for the best national team in the world to a league rival? Well the answer to that could be that now Mata cannot negatively impact Chelsea for the rest of the season.
Chelsea and Manchester United have already played their two league games after the 3-1 Chelsea win on Sunday. While Chelsea and Manchester United could potentially meet in the later rounds of the Champions League, Mata is cup-tied to Chelsea after appearing in two Champions League matches for Mourinho’s side.
Manchester United still have league matches with Manchester City and Arsenal on the schedule. Chelsea is sitting in third-place just one point behind City and two points behind Arsenal. So why not sell Mata, get a boatload of cash for him and potentially let him affect the two clubs ahead of them in the league standings? It really could be a stroke of genius by Jose Mourinho if it works.
While no formal offer has been submitted yet by United, it seems that the talks are in “an advanced state” between the two clubs with a physical possible by this weekend. Manchester United play later on Wednesday in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal tie with Sunderland while Chelsea’s next match is an FA Cup clash at home against Stoke City.