Transfer news: Manchester United are so big, we can buy top players even without Champions League pull, claims David Moyes

Juan Mata was convinced to join from Chelsea despite no guarantee the Red Devils will qualify for Europe's premier competition

Manchester United will continue to pursue the best players in the world even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, said David Moyes yesterday. The man sitting alongside him was proof of that.

Having completed the signing of Juan Mata for a club-record fee of £37.1m, the Manchester United manager was unequivocal when asked what Old Trafford’s future might look like outside the European elite. “Players will still join Manchester United for what the club stands for, for what it’s been, its history and the players who have come through here,” he said. “I think the message this sends is that we are going for all the best players in the world at Manchester United and I think Juan is one of those.”

Financially, the loss of Champions League football will make no difference to United since the average £30m revenues it generates will be made up by the income from the kit deal with General Motors that comes into effect next season.

The press conferences that announced United’s official noodle partner, official spirits partner and official tyre partner may have produced plenty of sniggers but the deals have built up a considerable financial buffer against short-term failure.

Moyes argued there would be more players sold between the big Premier League clubs “because that is where the best players are concentrated”. There was surprise the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, had made Mata available but Moyes added: “Chelsea have got several players of his type, in a way. We didn’t have that type and I thought we could do with this kind of player.”

One of the considerations Mata had to weigh up when deciding to leave Stamford Bridge was that he would be ineligible to play for United in this season’s Champions League and that he would be joining a club that, frankly, are floundering.

“What I like most about the club is its character,” he said. “If any other club was in this position in the league, it would be very, very difficult for them to come back and take first position.

“This club can do it, always can do it. This is a club that can fight together to the end, with character on the pitch. The real image I have of Manchester United is a club always trying to win titles, always fighting for everything and always coming back from difficult moments.”

Nevertheless, if Mata could afford to ignore the European Cup he won in his first season at Chelsea, the World Cup is another matter. Iker Casillas might make Vicente del Bosque’s starting line-up in Brazil without being first choice for his club, but there will not be many more exceptions. “The World Cup was really important in my thinking,” said Mata. “The Spanish squad is a very difficult one to get into. I hope this move is going to be a great chance for me, to keep playing, be fit and show the manager of the national team that I want to be there and that I have to be there.”

During United’s last “difficult moment”, the staggeringly incompetent penalty shoot-out with Sunderland for a place in the League Cup final, Moyes looked drained and beaten even by the standards of a season in which pictures of him grimacing on the touchline have been strewn across the back pages.

Yesterday, he was relaxed, buoyant even. It was perhaps not the moment to remind him that the last two managers to sign Mata, Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea and Valencia’s Quique Sanchez Flores, did not last long after his arrival.

Both on and off the pitch, however, the 25-year-old is Moyes’ kind of player – educated, intelligent and obvious captaincy material over the course of his five-year contract. When he was Everton manager, Moyes was infuriated by Wayne Rooney chewing gum during a press conference.

Here he noted the cut of Mata’s suit – “a gentleman” he called him. The player in turn appreciated the helicopter United had laid on to take him to their training complex at Carrington.

Mata, who will reinforce a midfield Sir Alex Ferguson neglected during his final years at United, may be the most important signing since Rooney himself arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2004. Moyes recognises that, by himself, Mata is not enough.

“What he can do is help improve results,” he said. “We have had a problem at Old Trafford making and scoring goals. That has been our biggest downfall.

“I don’t think this puts my stamp on the team because a couple of new signings isn’t all that’s needed,” he said. “There is a bigger job to be done but you have to start somewhere.

“If you asked me what I needed most, I would say a central midfielder. I could do with a left-back but I hoped something would fall for us in the transfer window. But Juan can’t solve everything.”


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent