Juan Mata’s transfer to Manchester United could go through in the next 24 hours, with the Chelsea player expected to undergo a medical with the Premier League champions on Thursday. A fee of somewhere between £37 million and £40 million is widely reported to have been agreed between the clubs, with the Spain international’s move now a mere formality.
Whatever figure proves to be the final fee, it will be a club-record for transfer for United, eclipsing the £30.75 million that was paid to Tottenham Hotspur for Dimitar Berbatov in 2008. Such a figure has clearly proven too much for Chelsea to resist, despite the fact they will doubtless have preferred to sell Mata outside of the Premier League. While the 25-year-old has been voted Player of the Year in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge, it was clear that he never fit into Jose Mourinho’s more rigid, athleticism-based philosophy.
The signing will likely help to appease United fans who were left frustrated by the club’s bumbling activities during the last transfer window. Still, there remain questions about whether Mata addresses United’s main need, which continues to be in the center of midfield.
David Moyes was always going to face a tough task attracting a leading midfielder in this window. The likes of Juventus pair Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, as well as Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan have all been linked, but will have to wait at least until the summer.
One player who would be easier to prize away is Newcastle United’s Yohan Cabaye. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is known for his willingness to do business at the right price, with Cabaye’s valuation believed to be around the £20 million mark. It is reported that French champions Paris Saint-Germain are willing to pay just in excess of that figure, although French journalist Julien Laurens has suggested that Cabaye may be having second thoughts due to PSG’s mooted move to sign Pogba in the summer.
That would, in theory, leave the door open for United, although it doesn’t seem like it is a route that Moyes is actively pursuing. Indeed, the Northern Echo has reported that Moyes has opted against a move for the France international.
Instead it could be that attention at Old Trafford after Mata’s signing is turned toward Fredy Guarin. More of an athletic midfielder than Cabaye, the Colombian is known to be available from Internazionale in this month’s transfer window. Indeed, he was on his way to Juventus in a swap deal for Mirko Vucinic just a few days ago before protests from Inter ultras about the deal is believed to have thwarted the transfer.
Reports in Italy now claim that Manchester United have been in contact about the former Porto man. They will likely have to move fast, however, with long-term suitors Chelsea said to still be eyeing the situation with interest.
Meanwhile, Moyes’s scouting missions across Europe will next take him to Germany to witness Borussia Monchengladbach’s match with Bayern Munich on Friday, where he will have a particular eye on attacking midfielder Patrick Hermann, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The 22-year-old makes for an unlikely target, however. Having come up through the ranks at Monchengladbach with Marco Reus, Hermann has yet to enjoy the same success as the Borussia Dortmund man and has yet to represent Germany at the senior level. And Hermann has dismissed the prospect of a move this month.
“It, of course, honors me to be linked to such a club," he told Rheinische Post, according to ESPN. "But a winter transfer is absolutely no issue for me. I feel fine here at Borussia, we are playing an outstanding season."
"You should never say never," he added about the possibility of a move in the future. "But the Bundesliga is one of the strongest leagues in the world."
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.