Despite being unarguably Chelsea’s best player for the past two years, brilliant Spanish playmaker Juan Mata has been allowed to move to Manchester United in a record deal for the Red Devils. Mata was influential in Chelsea’s recent Champions League and Europa League triumphs but was benched by Jose Mourinho soon after his return to the club, and with a World Cup just months away, Mata needed first team football.
Juan Mata is not a Mourinho-style player. Whereas Oscar, Hazard, Schurrle, and Willian press from the front, hustling and harrying their opponents for 90 minutes and beyond, Mata is an attacker who sticks to attacking, and he does so beautifully; he could be described as more of a footballing aesthete than an imperious athlete.
Mourinho is building his team around the concept of defensive stability with full-backs often ignoring any attacking roles and even a lone striker always expected to put a defensive shift in. There is no doubt that this team possesses incredible flair and creativity, and although they are not as beguiling as Arsenal or as rampant as Manchester City, they can be an excellent team to watch. Mourinho has managed to freeze out Chelsea’s best player without him even being missed.
Other motives have been suggested, some of which would seem unthinkable but for the fact that the deal was orchestrated by Jose. In some small way, it establishes a kind of dominance and superiority that Mourinho wants to have over the club who snubbed him over the summer. Whereas United clung desperately to Wayne Rooney at the start of the season, Chelsea are now far enough ahead of United that they can afford to sell them their prime playmaker with little fuss; the deal was started and completed in a matter of days.
As well as this, Chelsea have already played United twice in the league this season, while Arsenal and Manchester City still have to meet David Moyes’ men again. With two points separating the top three, Mata’s contribution could still help Chelsea by hindering their rivals.
Away from the Chelsea side of things, the deal is, above all, incredibly exciting for Manchester United fans who now have another creative outfit other than Adnan Januzaj. A triumvirate of Januzaj, Rooney and Mata behind Robin van Persie is a terrifying prospect for any defense to face, and it could provide some relief for United’s own wobbly back line. Some high-scoring matches are undoubtedly coming Old Trafford’s way in the coming few months, with clean sheets likely to be at a premium - for the home side and away.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have confirmed the £15million signing of Basel’s Egyptian attacker Mohamed Salah. The dynamic youngster appeared to be on the verge of signing for Liverpool seven days ago but the Reds saw him snatched from under their noses. Like Mata for United, he will be unavailable to play in Europe.