Soon-to-be Former Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata’s move to Manchester United makes sense on many levels. While he does not specifically cure the weakest link in the Red Devils starting XI, the 25-year-old should energize an aging club that isn’t likely to contend in this years Champions League and has little to no chance of competing for the Premier League title this season.
On Chelsea’s end, Mata was a surplus. Eden Hazard, André Schürrle, and Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior comprised Chelsea’s top midfielders, leaving Mata as a glorified substitute. This further justified Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho’s decision to sell him to Manchester United for £37 million, a Manchester record.
But then there are the complaints from fellow managers such as Arsenal’s Arséne Wenger, who consider the move to be a way for Mourinho to improve the Blues’ chance of winning the Premier League by manipulating the rosters of their closest competitors. Chelsea has already played their two league matches against Manchester this season, the first ending in a draw and the second (this past Sunday) saw Chelsea winning 3-1. So Chelsea will not see Mata in uniform for the Red Devils. However, the two clubs above Chelsea in the table — Manchester City and Arsenal — each have one remaining match against the suddenly improved United.
Mourinho isn’t concerned about United storming up the table with Mata’s presence. But he has to know that they’re easily capable of taking points away from the EPL’s leading clubs (Arsenal and City). Wenger was publicly annoyed with Mourinho’s transfer tactics. “Juan Mata is a great player and they sell a great player to a direct opponent. It opens again a little bit the opportunity of this transfer market because Chelsea has already played twice against Man United. They don’t play against them anymore. They could have sold him last week,” said Wenger in regards to the timing of the sale.
Wenger continued, “If you want to respect fairness, that should not happen. You would want that everyone is on the same level. Chelsea do not do the rules. Maybe the rules should be adapted to more fairness.” Mourinho fired back an equally annoyed response to Wenger, “Wenger complaining is normal because he always does, it’s something that we know. When a player plays for a club on Aug. 20 and two weeks later, on Sept. 5, plays against the same club with a different shirt, this is normal. 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 Mourinho’s sale of Mata was more about manipulating Chelsea’s chances of passing City and Arsenal than it was about improving their own chances independently of all other clubs, then it’s a move worth making. He hasn’t hurt Chelsea’s chances of success by removing Mata from the roster, and he went about the transfer market within the rules and netted £37 million in the process. Questioning his motive is fair, but if you’re a Chelsea fan, you have to appreciate the things Mourinho wouldn’t do for success at Stamford Bridge.