Why Manchester United's £37m Mata move is misguided

Juan Mata

Manchester United are rumoured to be closing in on the signing of Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata – but would his £37m capture be a waste of money?

Spanish international Mata has been something of an outcast under returning Blues boss Jose Mourinho this season, and speculation has linked Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona with moves for him, but it seems Manchester United are favourites to landthe 25-year-old in a staggering deal worth £37m.

The move will help appease a United fanbase that are currently disgruntled after a summer of disappointment in the transfer market has been followed by a season of indifference on and off the field. But, despite Mata being one of the Premier League's top players, are United set to make a huge mistake with their blockbuster bid for the former Valencia man?

There is no doubting that the Spaniard is a world class attacking midfielder, and has been outstanding in England, scoring 33 goals and laying on 58 assists in all competitions.

His exclusion from the first team has been a hot topic throughout the Premier League season, with Mourinho preferring to use the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Andre Schurrle as the three-ponged support to Samuel Eto'o, Demba Ba or Fernando Torres in Chelsea's 4-2-3-1 system, and a player as good as Mata shouldn't be sat on the sidelines every week.

But United boss David Moyes turned down the opportunity to sign Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid during the summer, stating that he didn't need a player in that position; "We weren't close to buying him but something was mooted a little bit before that," Moyes said. "We didn't need that position at the time. I didn't even say it was an interest, it was put to us and it was just something at the time we didn't need. We had Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney and people of a similar ilk so it wasn't quite what we required at that time. We were looking at different positions."

Yet now, Mata – who plays in the same role as Ozil, and therefore Kagawa and Rooney – seems to fit the bill for Moyes, in a confusing change of tune.

The addition of Mata will create a logjam of the #10 position for Manchester United, and his arrival would almost certainly cause question marks to be raised over the future of both Kagawa and Rooney, who have been linked with moves away from Old Trafford recently. Moyes is having problems fitting Kagawa and Rooney into the same side, yet adding another #10 would only exacerbate the problem of square pegs in round holes for United.

Rather than adding another player in a position where United are stocked already, Moyes should be spending the money on somebody who can play a more reserved role in the midfield.

The likes of Miralem Pjanic, Kevin Strootman, Ander Herrera or even Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye would cost considerably less and would suit United's needs far better than Mata would, despite them not quite having the quality that the Spaniard possesses.

It's a concern that, should the Mata deal go through, Moyes will have spent almost £65m on two midfielders who don't actually solve the problem in the United midfield. Marouane Fellaini enjoyed his best spells at Everton playing either behind the striker or up front on his own, and has subsequently looked uncomfortable alongside Michael Carrick in the midfield.

As great as Mata is, it just doesn't solve the issues that United are having – whereas this move would still leave United short in the centre of midfield and without the whopping £37m which could be spent on a true central midfielder.

image: © Wshjackson

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