Mata close to completing €48m move to United

Everton say Séamus Coleman’s hamstring problem a ‘minor soft tissue injury’

Juan Mata of Chelsea (left) looks to be on his way to Old Trafford. Photograph: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Juan Mata of Chelsea (left) looks to be on his way to Old Trafford. Photograph: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 23:06

Juan Mata is close to completing a €48 million move to Manchester United, after telling Chelsea on Wednesday morning that he wanted to leave and sitting out training to guard against injury.

United have indicated a readiness to pay what will be a club-record fee for the 25-year-old Spain midfielder, having identified him as the player to spark their season, and all parties have come to view the deal as the best way forward.

It was reported that Mata had agreed personal terms with the English champions and will undergo a medical today.

Chelsea will consider whether to move for Internazionale’s Colombia midfielder Fredy Guarin, particularly as they might sanction a loan for Michael Essien – the midfielder is a target for Galatasaray. United are expected to loan the winger Wilfried Zaha to Cardiff City once the Mata deal has been concluded.

Mata’s father and agent is in England to oversee the final stages of the negotiations. Mata, who joined Chelsea in 2011 for €28.5 million from Valencia, is set to sign a four-and-a-half year contract at Old Trafford.

His star has fallen dramatically since Jose Mourinho took over as the Chelsea manager last summer. Mata had been Chelsea’s player of the year in his first two seasons but he has struggled to impress Mourinho, who has long held reservations about the midfielder’s lack of pace, physical presence and defensive ability.

Mata was furious to be substituted at Southampton on New Year’s Day and he has not played since. Under Mourinho, he has started 11 of the club’s 22 Premier League games. Mata needs more regular football to make sure of his place in Spain’s World Cup squad. He reported to Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham yesterday but his work there is effectively over. He is fully fit but he went through a routine away from the first team.

Rebalance his squad
Mourinho has sought to rebalance his squad this month. Kevin De Bruyne, the attacking midfielder, has been sold for €20 million to Wolfsburg while the defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic has arrived for €25 million from Benfica.

With Mata and possibly Essien leaving, the pursuit of Guarin would appear shrewd, particularly as he could be available for a bargain €10 million.

Guarin, who Mourinho has long admired, is a versatile, attack-minded central midfielder.

He had agreed terms on a switch to Juventus, with the striker Mirko Vucinic set to move in the opposite direction, only for Inter fans to voice their vociferous disapproval. The swap was called off but Guarin was left dissatisfied and Inter are keen to sell before the end of the month.

United player
Given the rapid movement of the transfer Mata could be a United player in time to face Cardiff at Old Trafford on January 28th.

Although Gary Neville pointed out earlier this week his arrival would represent a change of tactic for United, who have traditionally relied upon two wingers, the knowledge that none of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Nani have sparkled under Moyes this season means ditching the concept would not be a hardship.

Speaking on Sky Sports 1 yesterday Neville said: “This is a number 10 who plays in a wide area, and I’m imagining that Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney would take up the predominant roles, but he’s a huge talent.

“He can spot a pass. They’ve lacked creativity at times Manchester United in the final third and he definitely has that.”

Meanwhile, Everton have described right-back Seamus Coleman’s hamstring problem as a “minor soft tissue injury”.

No timescale has yet been put on the Republic of Ireland international’s return but the diagnosis might ease fears the 25-year-old could be out for a few weeks.

A statement on the club’s website added: “He has been closely monitored by Blues medical staff since then and has already begun his recovery.”
Guardian Service

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