Is Mata the special Juan for United?

Is Mata the special Juan for United?

Juan Mata is expected to undergo a medical today before completing his club record transfer to Manchester United.

A source close to the deal confirmed to Press Association Sport that it was “close” to being completed, with Mata expected to be in David Moyes’ squad for the visit of Cardiff to Old Trafford on January 28.

Moyes refused to discuss Mata following Wednesday’s Capital One Cup exit at the hands of Sunderland.

However, it is believed the 25-year-old has told Chelsea officials he will not be returning to the club, with the fee exceeding the £30.75million Alex Ferguson paid for Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.

United’s morale could certainly do with a lift too after enduring yet another of those punches Moyes said he expected to take during his debut season.

And the Scot admitted the latest was the worst yet as his team contrived to gift Phil Bardsley a goal a minute from the end of extra-time when it seemed they were about to book a final meeting against Manchester City at Wembley on March 2.

Amazingly, Javier Hernandez responded almost immediately to take the tie to penalties, only for all United’s takers to fail, with the exception of Darren Fletcher, as Sunderland advanced instead.

“We didn’t play well enough,” said Moyes.

“If we were [to go through], we were going to stumble over the line.

“With a minute or so to go we were almost there. We had opportunities to score a second goal and put ourselves in a better position but there is always going to be a loser in the semi-final and it was us.”

Asked whether it was the most severe blow he had taken during his short tenure, Moyes said: “Yeah, I think it is part and parcel of the game.”

It was tempting to think Mata might have been a useful presence in the penalty shoot-out, with Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj and Phil Jones joining Rafael in failing to convert.

Moyes revealed Michael Carrick would almost certainly have taken a kick had he not succumbed to an ankle injury, whilst Hernandez – who has taken penalties for United before – was also ruled out after hurting himself celebrating his goal.

“Ideally, it wouldn’t have been the group we had chosen,” said Moyes.

“Javier would have taken a penalty but was injured and people like Michael Carrick would have been involved.”

More in this Section

Football rumours from the mediaFootball rumours from the media

Granit Xhaka denies Arsenal are mentally weak after Evra criticismGranit Xhaka denies Arsenal are mentally weak after Evra criticism

Edwards admits Wales are wary of threat from South Africa dangerman KolbeEdwards admits Wales are wary of threat from South Africa dangerman Kolbe

Referee Jaco Peyper not selected for Rugby World Cup semi-finals after photo rowReferee Jaco Peyper not selected for Rugby World Cup semi-finals after photo row


Lifestyle

We catch up with Bushmills’ master distiller, who tells Sam Wylie-Harris more about this liquid gold.Irish whiskey masterclass: 11 things you need to know

Temples, beaches, and several nations with new names.From Bhutan to Costa Rica, Lonely Planet reveals its top countries to visit in 2020

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s unsure how to manage her mother’s dying wishes.Ask a counsellor: ‘Is it appropriate to notify my mother’s friends of her death by email?’

‘The Big Yin’ talks to Luke Rix-Standing about living with Parkinson’s, the power of forgiveness, and why he will never, ever stop swearing.Billy Connolly: ‘You don’t wake up famous, you wake up scratching yourself like everybody else’

More From The Irish Examiner