It appears the inevitable has happened — Manchester United have placed a £40 million bid for Chelsea’s Spanish talisman, Juan Mata.
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 22, 2014
All agreed. Juan Mata will be a Manchester United player. 45 million euros. All will be announced very soon
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) January 22, 2014
Oh, the humanity!
The 25-year-old has become expendable since the arrival of Jose Mourinho last summer. The Portuguese boss has re-sculpted the side in his image and, in all honesty, it is starting to work wonders. Yet, this new style requires a high level of marking, tackling, speed and workrate on both sides of the ball, leaving no room for the magic of Mata.
It is well known that had any other manager ousted Juan so quickly, they would have been treated similarly to Rafa Benitez; yet, at least at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho has the equivalent of diplomatic immunity.
The toughest aspect of this for many fans is that Chelsea are playing well, and doing it without the same player who was pivotal in winning both the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League the year after. The player is stunning on the ball, with a level of touch and class that is rarely equaled, even in an era of such technical ability.
Despite this, it is true that Mata does not currently possess all of the attributes necessary to thrive in Mourinho’s offense, especially now that Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian have cemented themselves as the first-choice attacking trio.
Yet, it would not be a great move for Manchester United either. Yes, he would provide the creativity that has been lacking at Old Trafford in recent years, and yes, he would instantly start in that side, but it would be a mid-season panic buy for David Moyes more than anything.
The Red Devils have already stifled the career of a top attacking midfielder in Shinji Kagawa, who has found himself second to the likes of Adnan Januzaj and even Ashley Young. Stop laughing. It’s true.
United are still a team that likes to play down the wings and not ping the ball around the top of the box like Barcelona. And once Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie return from injury, Mata would be relegated to the wing, which is already the problem at Chelsea.
Regardless, United are truly reeling for the first time this season after their 3-1 drubbing at Stamford Bridge, and it would come as no surprise if this deal does in fact happen.