Juan Mata’s £37million move from Chelsea to Manchester United is spectacular for a number of reasons.
Not only does it see United break their transfer record and Chelsea part with their player of the year for the previous two seasons, but it also gives a glimpse of the team David Moyes is beginning to create, and a look into the thought-process of the manager who deemed the Spaniard surplus to requirements.
At 25, Mata could and should play a key role in the new United, but in so doing, he can also prove that regardless of the price-tag, Jose Mourinho made a mistake parting with him.
It is admirable to spout mantras akin to “every bird deserves to fly”, but do they really need to fly so close to home?
And do they really need to play in the same league as two other men who could have been starring for Chelsea had the circumstances been different.
Much was written when Romelu Lukaku was permitted to join Everton on loan, and given his talent and his impact on the Blues’ direct rivals, perhaps it was a Mourinho master-stroke. But if Chelsea fall short this season due to striking deficiencies, it could be a case of smart but not smart enough.
But at least the Belgian remains a Chelsea player, at least for now. That cannot be said of Daniel Sturridge, who was sent on loan just as Lukaku was – shining at Bolton Wanderers before being sold to Liverpool for a reported £12million last January.
There is no doubt the England international has bloomed in his time at Anfield. And while playing alongside Luis Suarez would make better players of us all, Sturridge has also proved in the Uruguayan’s absence that he can be the man to win matches.
Perhaps Chelsea will pip Manchester City and Arsenal to the title this season, or perhaps the Champions League will find its way back into the Portuguese manager’s hands. But given the strength of the teams around them – both domestically and in Europe – it may be that they could have done with Lukaku, Sturridge and Mata – the lost possibilities with the talent to change not just matches but whole seasons.
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