Is Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata right for Manchester United? The case for and against a £40m move

Former Manchester United player Gary Neville has said Mata does not fit into United's 'philosophy', however The Independent's Kevin Garside says the Spaniard is a good fit for David Moyes' side

Juan Mata is on the verge of a £40m-plus move to Manchester United - but is he the answer?

 

NO - says Gary Neville

He does not fit club’s buying philosophy and Moyes would have to restructure the team

Does Juan Mata fit with what I would call the typical philosophy of Manchester United? I would say no.

Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are up front, if they are fit, so where are you going to play him? Are you going to play him off the left or off the right?

We’ve seen Shinji Kagawa play off the left, we saw Kleberson play at times off the left, we’ve seen Juan Sebastian Veron at Manchester United move to the left because he couldn’t play central midfield.

They would have to change to accommodate Mata in the way they normally play. They normally play with wide players. Sometimes they tuck in, but generally they have wide players and the thing for me is where is he going to play?

Maybe they have to change the philosophy and maybe that’s what David Moyes is thinking. Maybe he wants to play narrow wide players and maybe a three in midfield.

Mata is obviously a fantastic football player, there’s no doubt about that, and one thing this potential move does do, I suppose, it shows that David Moyes, Manchester United and Ed Woodward need to sign a big player. They need to make a noise and if they get him in it will attract potentially other players – and they need three or four players.

That’s a lot of money, £37m, but they need a signing. What it could be is the start of something to lead to other things, but typically I wouldn’t say he fits.

If you took Paul Pogba, Marco Reus, Luke Shaw and Arturo Vidal – they would fit into Manchester United’s philosophy.

Lucas Moura would and Ilkay Gündogan and Julian Draxler would. They are young players who have still not reached their full potential and have the potential to go on to be world-class players.

They are good players at the moment and that fits the Manchester United mould of how they have historically signed, more often than not.

Gary Neville was talking on Sky Sports

 

YES - says Kevin Garside

Old Trafford’s tradition for wide players is outdated and creative deficit needs solving

What is a Manchester United player? The question is begged by the argument volunteered by Gary Neville that Juan Mata is not a man for Old Trafford. United, according to Neville must have wide players. Why? They have wide players now and it isn’t working.

Indeed, you might argue that the dogmatic adherence to that ancient notion is part of the problem currently afflicting Old Trafford. Maybe the idea of the same man hugging the touchline is itself outmoded?

I would not presume to lecture a member of the England coaching staff but I do worry that a thinker as deep as Neville feels a players as versatile and creative as Mata would not be a fit for United. Would he have the same concerns if Lionel Messi became surplus to requirements at Barcelona? Similarly, would he ever have countenanced the re-alignment of Cristiano Ronaldo from wing to roaming forward. Mata is no Ronaldo or Messi, but the point is made.

United have a creative deficit in the final third, the need of an incisive presence to fashion openings. Mata is proven in the Premier League and good enough to have been Chelsea’s player of the year two seasons running. That Jose Mourinho does not select him ahead of Eden Hazard, Willian or Oscar does not make the case against Mata.

Mourinho is paid to make these decisions and prefers the others, none of whom are shabby, above the Spaniard. He can afford to. Would Mata be out of the side if Mourinho was selecting from a pool of players including Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Phil Jones or, for that matter, Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young?

You might baulk at the £40m valuation, but there is little United can do to counter footballing inflation, however mad it is. And at that price Mata still comes in cheaper than Mesut Özil, his playmaking equivalent at Arsenal.

The story of United's decade of midfield woe...

 

Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
News
news
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
life
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone