Is Mata the ‘Juan’ For Manchester United?


After beating them 3-1 on Sunday afternoon, and declaring that they were probably out of the title race for this season, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho could be in a position to offer Manchester United a kick-start to their season – but it could cost United either £40million or Wayne Rooney.

Although Chelsea have prospered under the second coming of the Portuguese, for Juan Mata, the club’s player of the year for the past two terms, it has been somewhat less successful. The little Spanish playmaker has failed to convince his manager that he is worth a place in his starting eleven due to his perceived lack of ability to perform without the ball. This is sharply contrasted by the outstanding performances of Oscar, who now seems deeply ensconced in Mata’s ‘number 10’ position. The consequence of this is that Mata feels that his chance of going to the World Cup with Spain’s star-studded squad is being compromised by lack of first tam football, and needs to resolve this situation. And this is where United come in.

The Old Trafford club has suffered from a lack of creative quality in the centre of the park, and efforts to secure solutions such as Cesc Fabregas in the summer came to nought. Now some fourteen points off the top of the league and in genuine danger of not qualifying for the Champions’ League by finishing in the top four, reinforcements to the squad are urgently needed.

On paper Mata looks an ideal solution to Moyes’ midfield malaise, but with Mourinho making noises about Mata being important to the future of Chelsea, the London club don’t appear to be keen to make it too easy for United. Equally, Mata is also making the requisite noises about fighting for his place, and being committed to the club, but for a player who has watched Chelsea win their last five games without him, and has not kicked a ball for them since being substituted at Southampton at the turn of the year, it cannot be an ideal situation.

The Daily Mail online are reporting today that Chelsea are likely to demand some £40million for the player, but would still, understandably, be reluctant to sell to a rival. The other possibility is of course that some kind of swop deal involving Mourinho’s long term target Wayne Rooney would appeal to Chelsea, but would probably be ruled out by Moyes. Solving one problem by creating another probably isn’t in his playbook.

Although buying Mata would seem a sound solution for United, the price, either in cash or player, may be too high to countenance, plus Chelsea will not want to strengthen United unless it is on their terms. For Mata therefore, the realistic option appears to be some kind of loan deal, perhaps in Spain, until the end of the season to promote his World Cup aspirations. Personally, unless Mourinho thinks that United are a spent force, and therefore no danger to his club – and that would be a wildly dangerous assessment – I can’t see this one happening.

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