Juan Mata’s move to Manchester United, the biggest January transfer made by a Premier League club in three seasons, has been officially confirmed by the Old Trafford club. All that remains is Mata passing a medical and agreeing personal terms for the deal to be completely finalized.
The Chelsea perspective on the deal is now clearer from a soccer perspective particularly after the signing of Mohamed Salah from FC Basel.
For Manchester United, this deal makes plenty of sense much like the arrival of Mesut Özil lifted the sagging spirit among Arsenal supporters, Mata’s signing is likely to do the same for United. David Moyes needs a boost to his image and the Mata signing proves the former Everton Manager can secure big names in the same fashion his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson did.
Acquiring Mata will make it easier to part with Wayne Rooney if the Englishman continues to avoid signing a new contract with the club. Rooney is one of the world’s finest footballers when fit, but in between his spells of petulance, injuries and his advancing age, Mata’s addition will make it much easier to sell him on. But for now Rooney remains a Manchester United player.
However, Mata’s unwillingness to do the defensive work required by Jose Mourinho likely means that Manchester United will have to deploy two pure defensive minded midfielders behind him. This simply does not work if Rooney is fit and available for selection and could impede the development of Adnan Januzaj. However an option is to play without any wingers and line up like this and count on the fullbacks to provide width.
Rafael Jones Vidic Evra
This is more or less a 4-2-2-1-1 or a 4-2-3-1 formation. Either way, the wingers the Red Devils have signed in previous seasons, such as Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Nani, are not needed in this setup.
It is a radical departure from how David Moyes has set up his teams both at Everton and now at Manchester United. However, being forced to integrate a player of Mata’s quality and skill set while still having Wayne Rooney under contract may force this sort of tactical rethink from the Manchester United Manager.
One thing is for sure. Media scrutiny on Moyes will continue and perhaps even intensify (if that is possible) depending on how Mata is integrated into the playing squad.