Manchester United, the reigning champions of the Barclays English Premier League, currently languish at seventh in the EPL table. Manager David Moyes insisted his squad needed new players before the winter transfer window closed, and today he snagged one.
A big one.
Chelsea’s 25-year-old Spanish midfielder Juan Mata will join the Red Devils after passing his physical. Mata’s move will cost 37 million pounds (approximately $61 million), a club record, and gives United another world-class player to bolster their depleted squad, as forwards Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are both injured. Mata leaves Chelsea with 33 goals in 133 appearances. Chelsea are expected to sign Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah from Basel to replace Mata.
For an in-depth look into how this works out for both squads, ESPN’s Gab Marcotti has a great seven-point guide to understanding this transfer, which you can read here.
On the surface, it’s a good move for both United and Mata, both who desperately need each other. United’s pining for some sort of creative output–although it doesn’t solve any defensive deficiencies–and Mata’s looking for a squad where he can earn regular playing time ahead of this summer’s World Cup. Mata was a fixture for Chelsea’s squad last year, but hasn’t featured much under new manager Jose Mourinho.
The move also sees United stealing a quality player away from a major rival, which comes after months of speculation that Moyes’ managerial appointment lessened United’s luster for the world’s best players.
However, Marcotti mentions that Mata could be an odd fit for Moyes’ system, and the sale itself might have been overpriced, as United could’ve scooped him up for cheaper in the summer.
Mata could justify his transfer fee as early as Tuesday, when United takes on Cardiff at Old Trafford.