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Why would Mata want United move?

Rich Kitto questions why Chelsea's Juan Mata would want to join Manchester United - and fears for David Moyes if the move does not go ahead.

Last Updated: 22/01/14 at 15:40 Post Comment

Juan Mata: Out of favour at Stamford Bridge

Juan Mata: Out of favour at Stamford Bridge

Days after Chelsea rather resoundingly beat Manchester United 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, the two teams seem set to go head to head again, this time over the potential transfer of talented Spanish midfielder Juan Mata.

The move certainly makes sense. Mata, midfield maestro and supreme talent, has gone from essential cog to spare part since the return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea, while United's season is stuttering and spluttering to almost a complete stop, as they find themselves in desperate need of a spark plug to reignite their engine.

So the logic behind Moyes' apparent desire to bring Mata to the club is there for all to see, although the motives as to why Mourinho would be prepared to negotiate with the previous title challengers are a bit more difficult to identify.

Of course this is not the first time in recent memory that the two teams have locked horns off the pitch, as Chelsea's pursuit of Wayne Rooney in the summer still leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of both managers.

Moyes was understandably annoyed by the Europa League champions going public in their hunt for Rooney in an attempt to unstable him, whilst Mourinho was frustrated that they were denied access to talk to a player who was seemingly keen on the move.

It's very difficult, therefore, to imagine a role reversal playing out nicely to script. After all, why would Chelsea want to weaken themselves to strengthen a rival when they have no need to?

Clearly, for a team that has spent £167million in the past two years, money is not an issue even if they were to recoup £37million as touted in some papers. And with Chelsea still targeting success on three fronts, is it wise for Mourinho to move on such a talented reserve with the risk of fatigue and injury to his first-choice front men only set to increase over the coming months.

However, the key viewpoint is that of Mata himself. In the run up to the World Cup, the need to consistently play at the highest level is obvious, and that is surely the 25-year-old's main reason for apparently wanting a transfer.

After all, what can United genuinely offer him, beyond game time, to convince him of a move?

Having already played in the Champions League this season, any move to Old Trafford would leave him cup tied, therefore any opportunity to test himself at the top would be delayed at least until next season - which seems crucial when vying for a space in a national side as strong as Spain's.

Also worth considering for Mata, of course, is the club's current predicament in the Premier League as they find themselves six points off fourth, and facing the real possibility of life without European football at all next season.

Finally, and as previously mentioned by Gary Neville, Mata thrives on freedom in a role off the front, which is something he's not currently given by Mourinho and would surely not be given by Moyes either - at least while Wayne Rooney remains at the club.

All of the above might make Mata think twice before deciding on move to United, though if this is the case it will not be a new experience for fans of the Red Devils as they grow increasingly tired and disheartened by the big names seemingly rejecting the advances of the club.

Last summer's activity promised much, and ultimately delivered nothing more than £26million worth of big, bushy-haired disappointment, as numerous stellar names were linked to the club before either joining rivals or staying put.

Thiago Alcantara, of Barcelona, agreed to join Bayern Munich after the player's father once admitted his son was 'very close' to joining the Red Devils. Cesc Fabregas was another that Moyes identified to bring new life to the team's midfield before he recommitted to Barcelona and revealed he 'hadn't even thought about leaving'.

Leighton Baines, meanwhile, not only overlooked the chance to reunite with Moyes in the summer, but looks set to renew his contract at Everton despite United's need to still recruit a left-back.

And then there was the botched deadline-day bid involved in the recruitment of young Spanish starlet Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao, which ultimately collapsed and led Herrera to since say "I'm right where I want to be".

With a more extreme view on the subject, no-nonsense Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi claimed a move to Manchester United would have left him suicidal: "It was a good thing that I didn't go to Manchester United, or I would have committed suicide by now."

This is all without mentioning Gareth Bale, the tedious saga involving Holland's Wesley Sneijder - "I'm very happy here [at Galatasaray]" - and what could have been with Cristiano Ronaldo: "I did think about United. They are still in my heart."

It's worth remembering that United were the current Premier League champions when approaching all these various names, thanks by in large to the one marquee signing that they did complete at the expense of rivals in Robin van Persie.

Among growing speculation that Moyes would be the one to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson last summer, one of the major concerns around the appointment was his ability to attract big names to the club, and so far such anxieties seem justified.

Mata is the latest in the growing line of stellar names linked to the team, and if Moyes doesn't produce the goods soon then he's in line to face the Spanish inquisition.

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