Mata or Luiz: Which Chelsea Star Would Be a Better Fit at Manchester United?
Could Wayne Rooney cross the English Premier League divide and move from Manchester United to Chelsea? Strong rumours link the Liverpool native with a sensational transfer to Stamford Bridge, possibly with a player travelling in the opposite direction.
David Luiz and Juan Mata appear the most likely candidates to make up the rest of the deal, but which player would slot most effortlessly into David Moyes' plans?
First of all, the deal will not be easy to close. The Daily Mail reported the details of Chelsea's proposal on Wednesday: a bid of around £10 million plus United's choice of the Spain or Brazil international. Moyes apparently emphatically rejected the offer, as well as a follow-up offer of £22 million without a player moving in the opposite direction.
Furious that details of their negotiations had leaked into the press, Chelsea responded with a statement admitting interest but denying that anyone had been offered to move to Old Trafford, reprinted in the Independent:
Chelsea can confirm that yesterday it made a written offer to Manchester United for the transfer of Wayne Rooney. Although the terms of the offer are confidential, for the avoidance of doubt and contrary to what is apparently being briefed to press in Sydney, the proposed purchase price does not include the transfer or loan of any player from Chelsea to Manchester United.
In the present, then, the completion of an exchange appears to be a non-starter. But should negotiations recover from an admittedly rocky start, the fact remains that each player could prove to be an asset for the current Premier League champions.
Of the two, Mata would be the natural replacement for Rooney. His scoring record is respectable rather than outstanding; 89 in 331 career appearances, compared to Rooney's 197 in 400, counting club matches. But his real value to a team comes away from the net.
The attacking midfielder or second striker possesses two key virtues: terrific vision and awareness of the game around him and a keen sense of self-sacrifice. Thus, while his goalscoring numbers may not compare with those of the world's top forwards, he makes up for it in the service he gives teammates.
In 2012-13 alone, Mata provided a brilliant 35 assists for Chelsea, 17 in the Premier League alone. He had a direct hand in 29 of the Blues' 75 Premiership strikes, not counting many more where he was involved in the buildup. In that sense he would provide the perfect foil for Robin van Persie in Manchester, who enjoyed a fluid partnership with Rooney considering it was the first season the two stars played together.
With Champions League, Europa League, World Cup and European Championship medals all hanging from the mantelpiece too, Mata has proven that he has an impeccable winning mentality that fits perfectly with the traditions handed down by the incorrigible Sir Alex Ferguson.
That is not to say that Luiz could not make a name for himself at Old Trafford. Calm and collected, confident in possession and able to shift between the defence and midfield, the Brazil star is the epitome of a modern ball-playing centre-back.
United's priority, however, would be in bolstering the forward line. Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones, Tom Smalling and Rio Ferdinand appear to have the defence covered, while there is also no shortage of talent in the middle. Luiz's occasionally lackadaisical style at the back, losing possession in unfortunate situations, represents the antithesis of Moyes' ordered, drilled style of managing.
If they have not been stung into submission by United's brusque response to the offer, Chelsea will have to come back with more money if they have any hope of coercing the Manchester giants into accepting a switch.
Should Moyes change his mind, however, the incorporation of Mata would be the perfect way to replace a player who has been vital to the club over the last nine seasons.
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