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Is Juan Mata the answer to Manchester United’s midfield problems?

Manchester United are being linked with a bid for Chelsea's Spanish playmaker Juan Mata

Manchester United are being linked with a bid for Chelsea’s Spanish playmaker Juan Mata

According to the Daily Telegraph, Manchester United are considering a £37million club record bid for Chelsea’s attacking midfielder Juan Mata.

The diminutive Spaniard has fallen out of favour at Stamford Bridge and does not seem part of Blues boss Jose Mourinho’s plans.

Player of the Year

Juan Mata has won the Chelsea Player of the Year for the past two years, so he now finds himself in unfamiliar territory on the fringes of the Chelsea starting eleven.

Mata is a big favourite among the Blues fans and the majority of Chelsea would not want to see him leave the club.

Out-of-favour

Since the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge Juan Mata has been out of favour at the club. The Portuguese boss has favoured Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar in the three attacking midfield positions behind the lone striker in recent months.

Mata has not appeared for Chelsea since 1st January and he must be seriously disillusioned by his current situation with the Blues. With a World Cup in less than six months ago, Mata really has to start consider his options.

Mourinho has stated in the past that he does not want to sell Mata and thinks highly of the Spaniard, despite the fact he only makes occasion appearances for the Blues.

Struggle

Manchester United have struggled to bring in quality players since the summer arrival of David Moyes at Old Trafford. Marouane Fellaini arrived at Old Trafford on deadline day from Everton for £27million and his signing has proved a poor one so far.

Fellaini was a panic buy, no doubt about it. The Belgium international is currently out of action with a wrist injury, but his displays prior to the injury were tepid at best for the Red Devils.

Moyes transfer struggles have led to United fans questioning whether he can pull off big transfer moves. A move for Mata would certainly be a big one and a coup if the former-Everton boss managed to seal a deal for the Spaniard.

Moyes needs to pull off a big signing in the near future in order to prove to the United fans that he has what it takes to be the Manchester United manager in the long-term.

Key factors

Whether a move for Mata is a viable option hinges on few key factors though. The first being would Chelsea be willing to sell the playmaker to another English club? Mourinho may not see the attacking midfielder in his plans, but he is well aware of how good a player he is.

The Portuguese boss will not want to strengthen United’s team, as even though they do not appear to be a threat to the Blues at the moment they may well be in the future, especially with a player of Mata’s quality in their team.

Mata is reported to have the likes of PSG, Monaco and Internazionale on his trail, so United would have serious competition for the talented Spanish international.

One of the other key factors is what position he would play at Manchester United. Mata’s favoured position is the number ten role just behind the main striker. When he has played in other positions for Chelsea he has not been as effective.

United have a number of players that can play that role, including Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj. When United play with Rooney and Robin van Persie, Rooney comes into the space that a number ten would usually operate in.

It would be hard to see Rooney and Mata playing in the same team, as both players would want to occupy the same space on the field. Both are talented, intelligent footballers, but neither could curb their natural instincts for where they like to play the game.

Of course Wayne Rooney’s United future has been in doubt for some time now and if Rooney left at the end of the season, then Mata would probably be the best replacement that Manchester United could bring in.

Unlikely

Although I am a fan of Jason Burt (the writer of the Daily Telegraph article) I just cannot see Manchester United signing Juan Mata in the January transfer window. Juan Mata may move on in January to aide his chances of making the Spain squad for the World Cup.

However, I believe that it will not be to United. The Manchester United midfield is crying out for some creativity, but I do not think that Juan Mata is currently the answer to that absent creativity, even if he is a top player.

United need a player that will give the team creativity from the central midfield area, rather than the number ten role and Juan Mata is just not that man.

Is Juan Mata the answer to Manchester United’s midfield problems?

Tue 21 January, 2014
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