Reports are circulating that Manchester United have tabled a £35 million bid for Chelsea attacking midfielder Juan Mata.
Mata hasn’t featured as much under Jose Mourinho as often as he would have liked to this season and Chelsea may look to sell, especially with the recent addition of Nemanja Matic and in order to help the club comply with the Financial Fair play rules.
With Manchester United seemingly out of the title race and struggling to make the Champions League, the question has to be asked, can the Spaniard change the fortunes of David Moyes’ men.
Mata’s talents are clear for all to see and many are perplexed as to why he has featured so little in the Chelsea starting line up this season, having been one of the club’s most influential players since arriving from Valencia in 2011.
The 25-year-old would provide much needed quality in the final third, an area where United have failed to impress this season. Ashley Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia have all received criticism and Mata would offer something different than your traditional out and out winger.
The stats speak for themselves. Valencia, Young, Nani, Fellaini, Cleverley and Kagawa have a total of just four goals between them this season, which if you compare to the midfield of other teams in the Premier League, is an abysmal record. Especially when you consider Yaya Toure has 11 on his own, Aaron Ramsey 8 and Yohan Cabaye 7.
It even speaks massively on United over-reliance of young Adnan Januzaj this season. The 18-year-old has shown glimpses of real potential at times but for United to already have to label him as a key player speaks volumes for their under performing stars.
However it would be wrong to dismiss that Manchester United don’t have other problems, namely in central midfield. Marouane Fellaini has been a total flop, so far, since his arrival from Everton in the summer. The likes of Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley are having poor season and Ryan Giggs, for all his talents, is not getting any younger.
Moyes will need to add some more quality in that area before the end of January if they are to try and get top four this season, the title is out of their grasp now. His pursuits of Cesc Fabregas and Thiago in the summer were well documented but with United looking like they might miss out on European football this season, will they be able to attract players of that caliber.
Then you get back the question of David Moyes. To be quite honest, this season was always going to be a transitional phase for the club, but did anyone expect them to be this far off the pace?
In essence, the title winning squad of last season is still there, but it has stood still whilst others around them have progressed forward, on and off the pitch.
You also have to take into consideration the Fergie effect. Was the great manager good at getting the best out of his players? Pushing them to succeed in a better way that David Moyes can? Does he just need time to essentially gain the trust of his players, many of whom have played under Sir Alex for well more than a decade.
If that is the case, then Moyes’ biggest mistake was not getting in two or three more players in last summer. Fellaini was his only addition to his squad and every part of that signing smelt of a panic buy in the last week of the transfer window.
Mata would be a great way to start the process of molding this Manchester United team from a Sir Alex Ferguson team, to a David Moyes team. The idea of having Mata, Rooney and another one of United’s attacking players in behind Robin van Persie is good enough to win the title, not this season, but next, as long as they can get in a few more players, notably a central midfielder and a couple of defenders.
Mata won’t be able to change United’s fortunes on his own, but it will be a good start as Moyes looks to re-brand his Manchester United team.