I think it is a purely financial reason. That is the first time I come to that conclusion with Chelsea
The football world was agog at the news of the imminent transfer of Juan Mata from Chelsea to Manchester United. This was a move no one expected because Mata has been Chelsea’s Player of the Season for the two previous seasons, is a firm fans’ favourite and there had never been a transfer from the Blue side of London to the Red side of Manchester. Juan Mata, however, completed a £37 million move to Manchester United a few days ago. Despite that Mata evidently adores his Chelsea supporters (as seen in his emotional open letter), this is a move that benefits himself, Manchester United and Chelsea – the three parties involved.
Mata is an extremely gifted player and is second only to the amazing David Silva in creating goals in the past three seasons. All Mata needs is game time, and he is going to get plenty of that after becoming the most expensive signing of his new club. Mata truly loves and adores Chelsea, the fans and London, but he would not mind a new challenge especially one that sees him play week in – week out. Aside boosting his confidence levels and improving his fitness level, he now finally has a genuine opportunity to prove to Del Bosque that he deserves to be in the Spanish team come Brazil 2014. Perhaps the biggest bonus to Juan Mata (although it is obvious that Mata plays for heart than for money) is his greatly improved wage from £70,000 a week to £150,000 a week, amounting to a whooping £7.8 million a year! Nice going, Juan Mata!
Some say playing Juan Manuel Mata might mean less traditional wing play from Manchester United. However, it should be recalled that in the previous seasons with Chelsea, Eden Hazard thrived from Mata’s central free-roaming play. This is a good deal for Manchester United (sorry, Shinji Kagawa) because Rooney and the in-form Welbeck can demonstrate their lethal talents in front of the opponents’ goals. When the attack of any team is formidable, it relieves pressure from the defense and this is exactly what Moyes needs for his shaky defense. Mata can also instigate a lethal classic United counter-attack and can also score directly from free kicks. Juan is just 25 years and is nowhere near his peak.
This might prove to be a long-term deal breaker for Manchester United. Mata’s current deal means he would earn £7.8 million a year, meaning by the time he gets to 28 (Rooney’s current age), he would have cost Manchester United only £60 million in transfer and wages (assuming of course, conditions remain as they are). Compare this to £47 million that would be given to Wayne Rooney in wages alone over three years if his current contract talks bear positive fruits – this shows value for Mata’s purchase, not forgetting the fact that he will propel the club’s position.
Critically, this transfer is as much tactical for Chelsea as it is financial – that’s where Prof. Wenger gets it wrong. With the impending arrival of the UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP), Chelsea is simply making a statement of intent. Aside cashing in on an extra £14 million on Mata’s sale (a huge figure considering his immense role in that successful period), Chelsea is trying to meet up with the Break Even deficit of the FFP rule. In the year ending June 2013, Chelsea announced a £50 million loss; this does not help their cause to meet up with the FFP deficit of a loss of not more than €45 million. The one viable solution here was to sell Mata – an unused talent deemed surplus to requirements – at an inflated fee, because they knew Moyes’ desperation and frustration at failing to land big names signings would propel him to dip his hands into his wallet. For this financial year ending June 2014, Chelsea cannot afford to lose more than £4.5 million to comply with the FFP. Stamford Bridge accommodates 41,837 people and ticket sales alone might not make a considerable input. It was either they sold Mata and essentially ‘balance the books’ or they continue to rely on Abramovic to subsidise the loss. This is one of the reasons Chelsea has recently been recruiting young players they can deal on should in case the moves prove to be a fail.
It does not take one to be a football pundit to realise that Chelsea’s apparent hijack of Willian’s deal from Tottenham was initially a tactical move – to weaken a direct opponent and strengthen the club itself. The same can be said about Mata’s sale to Manchester United, as it acts firstly to water the ground for a possible Wayne Rooney bid and secondly to derail other possible title contenders. Chelsea and Manchester United cannot come against each other again this season (unless in the Champions League, of course, which Mata still won’t play in). It is no doubt that Juan will elevate United’s play and can help his new team win matches against Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool – all title contenders this season. This could all be Mourinho’s tactical plan; besides he has £37 million in the bank to buy players he wants, from selling a player he does not want. In this vein, Chelsea (and Mourinho especially) has also considerably won.
I wish Juan Mata the best of luck as he begins his new journey.
All images are courtesy of Google