London – Manchester United last night agreed a club record £37million deal for Juan Mata.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho signed off the deal after talks with club executives and Mata is due to have a medical in Manchester on Thursday.
United chief executive Ed Woodward has agreed to break the club’s transfer record as they attempt to salvage their season.
Even Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup semi-final against Sunderland was a cliff-hanger which went to extra time before United lost a penalty shoot-out.Seven defeats in the Barclays Premier League have left United six points off the pace in the race for fourth place – and Champions League football next season – but Mata’s addition will cause a huge stir at Old Trafford.
The Spanish playmaker, 25, trained alone in the Chelsea fitness centre at Cobham on Wednesday as his teammates prepared for Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge against Stoke.
Manager Mourinho had given his players two days off following Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League win over United. They returned to training on Wednesday to discover that Mata was “90 per cent sure” he would be leaving Chelsea, three years after he arrived in a £23.5m deal from Valencia.
He has not played for the club since substituted in the 53rd minute of their 3-0 win at Southampton on New Year’s Day. Mata was replaced by Oscar when the score was still 0-0 and he ignored Mourinho as he walked off the field at St Mary’s. Mata then kicked a plastic chair in the technical area in frustration and teammates had to calm him down.
After the game Mourinho claimed the door was open for any player who wanted to leave and Mata was one of them. He believes he will be given a fresh start at United and it’s a huge statement of intent by the champions after an indifferent first season under new manager David Moyes.
Mata was Chelsea’s player of the year for the past two seasons. United believe they are signing a world-class player and he is expected to make his debut against Cardiff on Tuesday. Chelsea may spend the Mata money quickly, and are vying with Liverpool to sign Basel’s Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah. They are also keen on Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa and have scouted Juventus striker Domenico Berardi. – Daily Mail