English Premiership

Mata move given green light

2014-01-24 16:34
Juan Mata (AP)

London - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has wished midfielder Juan Mata well on Friday ahead of his impending record transfer to Manchester United as rival English Premiership managers slammed the timing of the move.

"We are convinced that he is going to do well.

"Manchester United pay a record fee because they know he is a player that can be important for them, it is not a gamble," Mourinho told a news conference on Friday, with the deal still to be formally completed.

"We are convinced he is going to do well and we wish that. When we play him we will try and win and he will be the same, but everyone in this club wishes him well."

United have reportedly made a club record bid of £37 million for Mata.

Chelsea are currently third in the Premier League table, two points adrift of leaders Arsenal with reigning champions United 14 points off top spot.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has suggested the timing of the transfer is unfair as Chelsea have already played United twice this season and so won't have to face Spain international Mata again this campaign, unlike other title challengers.

However, Mourinho said: "Wenger complaining is normal, because he always does.

"It's something that we know.

"When a player plays for a club on August 20 and two weeks later on September 5 plays against the same club with a different shirt, this is normal, because this is the market.

"We don't do the market, we don't do the rules, we have just to do according to the rules.

"If Wenger sells (Mesut) Ozil to Man United in this moment I would be very happy because he sells a very important player. "

"Normally he should be happy that Chelsea sold a player like Juan Mata, but this is a little bit his nature."

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side are a point off top spot, was also aggrieved by the timing of Mata's planned move although the Chilean insisted his was a general complaint about the transfer window rather than an echo of French boss Wenger's grievances.

"Personally I don't agree that the player can go from one team to another team in the same league at this part of the year, but rules are rules and he can change clubs," said Pellegrini.

Asked why he objected, Pellegrini added: "Because I think if a player plays for a club for more than half of the season, a club with money can take the best players from the other teams.

And he insisted: "I am not talking about the reasons of Arsene Wenger. I am talking about general reasons and not the specific reason that they (Chelsea) have played already against them (United)."

Mata was Chelsea's player of the year in his two seasons since joining from Valencia but has struggled to cope with Mourinho's demands for a greater work ethic since the Portuguese returned to Stamford Bridge with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian favoured in the three attacking positions behind a lone centre forward.

The playmaker has completed just one of the last five games he started and last featured on New Year's Day at Southampton, where he reacted angrily to his substitution early in the second half.

But the expected arrival of Mata will be a huge boost to a United side who, already knocked out of the FA and League Cups, have been struggling in their first season since David Moyes replaced the retired Alex Ferguson as manager at Old Trafford.

Mata's departure from Chelsea seemed all the more likely when Chelsea revealed on Thursday revealed they are set to win the race to sign Egypt winger Mohamed Salah from Swiss club Basel.

Mourinho has made Salah his top target to replace Mata and he is on the verge of persuading the 21-year-old to move to London despite strong interest from Liverpool.

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