It looks like it’s a Mata of third-time lucky for Manchester United after the shambles of the summer transfer window, in which they famously, and humiliatingly, failed in their pursuit of Barcelona duo Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas. Under pressure, Manchester United Coach David Moyes’s has had many reminders already this season of the lack of depth in the United squad and has, no doubt, been reflecting on poor decisions made by the club in the transfer market.
With the ineffectiveness of his only major signing, Marouane Fellaini, a cause for concern, Moyes has moved swiftly to attempt at resurrecting his flagging season with the club-record breaking marquee signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea. As two-time Chelsea Player of the Year and purveyor of defence-splitting passes, Mata will bring with him the decisiveness in the last third that United have lacked on too many occasions already this season. His presence also serves the purpose of giving teen prodigy, Adnan Januzaj, much needed support in dealing with the pressure of first-team football. Januzaj has carried the team on numerous occasions this season and for a player so young, it is wise for Moyes to attempt to share the burden amongst more of his players.
The signing of Mata has shades of the Ozil to Arsenal affair to it, with the Gunners prior to this season lacking the cut and thrust that a truly world-class playmaker could provide. Enter Ozil and the impressive form of the re-emerging Ramsey, whose success has landed the team at the top of the Premier League table for much of the season. United meanwhile, have languished midtable and have rarely shown the form which made them Premier League champions under Ferguson.
The Wayne Rooney factor may also be behind the thinking of Moyes. Rooney’s discontent at the club has become notorious and with the striker set to be out of contract in 18 months’ time, the sale of Mata to United may well be a tactical ploy by Mourinho. Chelsea were linked with the prolific Englishman throughout much of last summer, and they may well try to capitalise on his dwindling contract, by selling them a readymade number 10 in the form of Mata, with the expectation that Rooney will be on his way to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Mata’s signing is a frank admission by Moyes that his club lack options when it comes to a creative outlet, in stark comparison to rivals like Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City. Moyes has kept faith in Cleverley, whilst repeatedly overlooking Kagawa, and has had to deal with the poor form of Fellaini and Valencia. Chelsea in comparison, have an embarrassment of riches for a midfield berth. Able to rotate the talents of Oscar, Willian, Hazard, Matic and the evergreen Lampard, it is a problem Moyes would envy having at United.
However, the capture of Mata may go some way in remedying Moyes’s poor debut season at the club. Of anyone, he has the ability to drag them to a coveted Champions league spot they so direly need.