Mata makes move

Manchester United reached an agreement with Chelsea to sign Juan Mata for a club record £37 million (€44m) late last night.

Mata makes move

The midfielder will have a medical, almost certainly today, and personal terms are also still to be agreed.

However, unless there are any hitches, Mata will make his debut in Tuesday’s Barclays Premier League encounter with Cardiff at Old Trafford.

“Manchester United is pleased to announce it has reached agreement with Chelsea Football Club for the transfer of Juan Mata for a club-record fee,” said United in a statement. “The deal is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms.”

Although manager David Moyes refused to discuss the 25-year-old following Wednesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final loss to Sunderland, sources involved in the deal had confirmed it was close to being agreed.

And the seal was put on the switch by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho when he spoke to the media yesterday lunchtime.

“It’s what he wants,” said Mourinho. “It’s what he asked us to accept. Chelsea Football Club is proud to act this way, in an open way, in a human way.”

It is thought United have agreed to pay £37m for Mata, smashing the club record £30.75m they paid for Dimitar Berbatov from Spurs in 2008.

Voted Chelsea’s player of the year for the past two seasons, Mata has failed to win over Mourinho and ended up being squeezed out due to the form of Oscar and Eden Hazard.

Yet Mourinho insists the former Valencia man leaves with his best wishes.

“We hope he does well,” said Mourinho. “We are convinced he is going to do well.

“If Manchester United pay their record for a player it’s because they know exactly what they want.

“They are convinced he’s going to be important for them.

“In spite of probably many clubs, many boards and many managers think you can’t sell a top player to a rival club, especially not in the same country you play, we feel and we think differently.

“The player deserves respect, the player deserves to be happy and to play where he wants to play.”

Desperate to preserve his place in Spain’s World Cup squad, Mata has jumped at the opportunity to help revive United’s fortunes.

And while his arrival alone cannot guarantee Moyes will steer his club back into the Champions League places, it does at least underline the determination within the Old Trafford hierarchy to return them back to their previous status as top dogs, which has slipped so alarmingly this term.

It is patently obvious, however, that Mata’s arrival can only be the start of a lengthy rebuilding process, with former United skipper Bryan Robson acknowledging bolstering central midfield — from which Michael Carrick is now likely to be absent with an ankle injury sustained in midweek — is a priority.

“It is what everybody’s been talking about for a couple of seasons now,” Robson told Sky Sports News. “Michael Carrick has been very consistent but everybody else has struggled to stamp their authority in there.

“I still feel it’s an area we need to strengthen. But new signings, especially when they’re top class, can give an injection of enthusiasm within the squad.”

Five key Man Utd signings

David Moyes is crossing his fingers that Juan Mata’s impending club record €45m transfer from Chelsea is the move that transforms Manchester United from fallen giant into Premier League contenders once more.

If Mata fulfils that expectation, he will be following an illustrious list of players who have achieved such a notable distinction.

Tommy Taylor

Signed March 1953 from Barnsley – fee £29,999

Matt Busby did not want to burden Taylor with the tag of becoming the first £30,000 player, hence the unusual fee. The Yorkshireman scored 131 goals in 191 appearances, playing inspirational roles in the title triumphs of 1956 and 1957. Tragically killed at Munich. Number 14 on United’s all-time scoring chart.

Denis Law

Signed July 1962 from Torino – £115,000

Law was a key figure in Busby’s rebuilding post-Munich. Famously in hospital when United won the European Cup in 1968 recovering from knee surgery, Law nevertheless did as much as anyone to both win the title that allowed entry into the competition, and guide United towards the Holy Grail. Second only to Bobby Charlton in the goalscoring list, Law’s 237 came in an incredible 404 games, including 18 hat-tricks.

Eric Cantona

Signed November 1992 from Leeds – £1.2 million

The inspirational arrival that sparked the end of United’s 26-year wait for the championship. Signed on a whim by Ferguson in a call when Leeds were registering their interest in Denis Irwin, Cantona set the standards off the field and brought a touch of genius on it. His tally of 82 goals in 185 appearances does scant justice to his overall contribution.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Signed August 2003 from Sporting Lisbon – £12.24million

Ferguson signed Ronaldo following the then 17-year-old’s stunning performance against United in a pre-season friendly. Although he took a little time to fulfil his potential, Ronaldo was a central component in three successive titles, scoring 42 times in the season which saw United crowned Champions League winners once more. Crowned world player of the year in 2008, Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid for £80million a year later where he has gone on to get even better still.

Robin van Persie

Signed, August 2012 from Arsenal – £24million

It seemed the Red Devils were on the slide after losing their title on goal difference to Manchester City. Midfield looked to be the area that needed strengthening. Instead Ferguson reinforced his attack. Van Persie proved to be another masterstroke. A glut of 18 goals in 26 games included efforts in wins against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, twice. Without him United would not have won the title last season.

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