Sport Football Is Juan the man for United?
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Is Juan the man for United?

Juan Mata
AFP
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Manchester United’s acquisition of Juan Mata will not save their season, despite the club splashing a record $74 million for the Spanish World Cup winner.

With United languishing in seventh place in the Premier League, 14 points behind leaders Arsenal, they will be struggling to haul themselves into the Champions League places.

Moyes will hope Mata can provide plenty of service to strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, with Red Devils fans licking their lips at the prospect.

But Mata is not the player United need in a midfield that has cried out for a replacement for Paul Scholes since his retirement last May.

Replacing Scholes, the man once hailed as ‘the complete footballer’ by no less than Zinedine Zidane, may prove as difficult as replacing Sir Alex Ferguson himself.

In a series of tweets before the signing, former United defender Gary Neville questioned if Mata would fit in at the club.

 

With Shinji Kagawa able to play the role behind the strikers, despite not being given a fair chance by Moyes or Ferguson, the club record fee is questionable.

United instead need a more traditional box-to-box midfielder that can arrive late in the penalty area – a player such as Juventus’ Arturo Vidal or Newcastle United’s Yohan Cabaye, two men that are probably out of reach for the club in this transfer window.

Mata’s signing for United has been likened to Mesut Ozil’s arrival at Arsenal, but it remains to be seen whether the Spaniard can exert the same kind of influence.

Jose Mourinho’s decision to accept a bid for Mata shows he no longer sees United as a legitimate title contender.

And United need more than a high-profile signing to paper over the cracks in their midfield.

Their youngsters, such as Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, need to step up, much like Aaron Ramsey has this season for Arsenal, if they aim to finish in the top four.

Mata’s arrival comes after the club released Brazilian midfielder Anderson on-loan to Serie A outfit Fiorentina, the first signs of a Moyes clean out.

“I hope it [Mata] will be the first of some new signings that will arrive, but more likely in the summer,” Moyes said.

“I don’t think we’ll have any more in January. I’m still working on it and looking to do things – we know exactly what we’d like to do and if it changes in the last week which sometimes it can do then we’ll try.”

Wherever he looks in the transfer market next, Moyes needs to get it right – because football fans are impatient, and the clock is ticking.