David Moyes and Jose Mourinho think Juan Mata‘s move from Chelsea to Manchester United is a good thing, as does Mata himself. The transfer wouldn’t have happened if any of them didn’t.
However, Mata’s Manchester move hasn’t caused universal excitement among the ranks of Premier League managers. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini publicly expressed their misgivings over Mata’s blockbuster transfer in recent days.
Wenger and Pellegrini took specific aim at the mechanisms of the transfer market. They believe Mata’s sale could give Chelsea an advantage in the race for the Premier League title because United will be stronger when it plays Arsenal and City, while Chelsea will not face Mata’s United again this season.
Wenger first addressed the Mata matter on Thursday during his press conference before Friday’s game between Arsenal and Coventry City. Wenger suggested that Chelsea manager Mourinho is looking to “manipulate the market,” to his team’s benefit by selling Mata to a rival club, according to the Guardian.
“I am surprised because Juan Mata is a great player and they sell a great player to a direct opponent,” Wenger said. “It opens [up] again a little bit the opportunity of this transfer market because Chelsea had already played twice against Man United so they don’t play again. They could have sold him last week [before the United game].
“It opens, at least, the opportunity of the dates of this transfer window. Some teams have already played twice against one opponent and some others, not. If you want to respect the fairness for everybody exactly in the game, that should not happen. I just think you would want everybody on the same level. I can understand completely what Chelsea is doing. They do not do the rules but, maybe, the rules should be a bit more adapted to more fairness.”
Mourinho brushed off Wenger’s remarks and took a shot at his old rival when asked about the suspicions during his own press conference Friday, according to the Guardian.
“We don’t make the market, we don’t make the rules,” Mourinho said. “We just act according to the rules. If Wenger sells [Mesut] Özil to Man United in this moment, I would be very happy because he’s selling a very important player. So, normally, he should be very happy that Chelsea sold a player like Juan Mata.
“But I think it’s also a bit of his nature. We have to accept the way he is. He’s a very intelligent man, someone who always has an opinion and who likes to show his opinion.
Mourinho said the cash Mata’s £37 million ($61 million) transfer raised will be an essential part of Chelsea’s evolution from free-spending upstarts to established domestic and European powerhouse.
“We are becoming a big club in every aspect,” Mourinho continued. “In the beginning we needed cups, silverware to make us and help us become a big club. Now we are a big, mature club. This decision was made by a group of people all with different perspectives but with one common interest: what is best for Chelsea?
“There were those who were looking at the economics, and it was a fantastic offer. Chelsea sold a player for almost double what we paid. As a purely football decision, I’d have preferred to keep Juan because he’s a player who can help us achieve important objectives, but our scouting department had quickly identified two or three players who could replace him — not a direct replacement because Juan is a champion -– and those factors, coupled with the fact Juan desired to go, made our decision. We did two deals, Juan and Kevin De Bruyne [for £18m to Wolfsburg], and put ourselves in a very good position in relation to financial fair play.”
Chelsea’s sale of Mata to United has divided opinion in some parts of London. It has also had a similar effect in Manchester.
The Associated Press reports United manager Moyes is delighted to add a world-class player to his squad.
“Juan is one of the finest playmakers in the game today and it’s a real pleasure to have secured his signature,” Moyes said.
But Pellegrini echoed Wenger’s complaints, saying Chelsea’s City, Arsenal and other Chelsea rivals will face a stronger United in the coming weeks and months, according to the Telegraph.
“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,” the City manager said. “Maybe Manchester United have an advantage because Chelsea wanted to sell him.
“All the other teams that Chelsea can play against may be an important reason. I think in this transfer window, players that play more than five or six games for the same club cannot change to another.
“I am talking about fair play. If you allow it then maybe teams with a lot of money can buy important players from the teams fighting with them for the title.”
Mata’s United transfer has caused a stir in Premier League circles, particularly at Arsenal and Manchester City. While Wenger and Pellegrini may have given honest responses to reporters’ questions, their answers are undoubtedly part of the mind games that managers play. They often look to promote an idea, change the conversation and even destabilize each others’ teams with their comments, so Wenger and Pellegrini’s words must be viewed with this in mind.