Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Why Gunners' Pursuit of Juan Mata Is Misguided
Arsenal's summer of high-profile transfer pursuits looks set to continue, it would appear, with the Mirror's Sunday People reporting this weekend that Juan Mata is a target for the Gunners heading into the final two weeks of the transfer window.
The future of 25-year-old Mata has very much been a hot topic of conversation in recent days, with the impending arrival of Brazilian playmaker Willian at Stamford Bridge placing the Spaniard's future at the club in doubt.
Mata, who has been voted the club's Player of the Year for two consecutive seasons, has also featured just once for Chelsea in the league thus far this campaign—with some believing that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho does not see the player as a good fit for his style. It is thought that several clubs around Europe are monitoring the situation, per Thom Drake of the Daily Mail.
For now, Mourinho insists that Mata is staying.
"He's a player we all like, he's a player we all want to keep. We want more quality in the team, we don't want less quality," he told a press conference on Friday, per ESPN. "We want to add quality to the quality we have. So Juan is not a player we want to lose."
It is clear, though, that the player himself may be more than a little uneasy with the current situation at Stamford Bridge and possible lack of playing time ahead of the World Cup. Whether he is particularly needed at Arsenal, though, is another question entirely.
For all the promises of money to be spent at Emirates Stadium this summer, there has yet to be a major arrival at the club over the past few months. How many players will make it through the doors ahead of the September 2 deadline, then, remains to be seen.
As with the recent pursuit of Yohan Cabaye, the question is not whether Mata would improve Arsenal—he undoubtedly would. Rather, the question is whether his capture is the best use of resources.
The Gunners are blessed with a number of technically gifted attacking midfield options, with Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey the leading candidates. It is in deeper-lying areas that they are currently far from blessed.
Should Mata arrive, he would hope to play in central areas, meaning either Wilshere or Rosicky would need to be replaced in Arsenal's first-choice lineup. He could, admittedly, play from a wider role, but it would be far from an enticing option for the player himself, if offered a central role elsewhere.
In fact, even if offered his preferred No. 10 role, there are real questions as to whether Arsenal would be able to attract a player of Mata's quality at present. Both Karim Benzema, per ESPN, and Angel Di Maria, per talkSPORT, are among recently linked players unsure about making a move to North London at present.
Should Arsenal sign Juan Mata if available?
Arsenal desperately need an organiser at the base of midfield, though. Talk of big-name attacking additions is all well and good, but scoring goals has not been the side's biggest issue in recent times.
Defensively, meanwhile, there are big concerns. The club's centre-backs—Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen—can all be rash in judgement, but are not helped by a lack of protection from midfield.
If Arsene Wenger does have considerable financial resources to use this summer, he would surely be better advised using those funds to secure a top-quality defensive midfield option.
Mata would be a success at Arsenal, there is no doubting that, and would also be an improvement upon the current alternatives in his position. What he would not do, however, is address the club's overall malaise.
When parting with such large sums of money on a player, especially for a club in danger of falling out of the Premier League's top four, a significant improvement to the team as a whole must be made—signing Mata, though, would simply see Arsenal continue down the same track.
Unless other recruits are added at the same time, therefore, Mata's signing would do little more than cover up some of the club's deeply ingrained issues. The club's supporters, though, deserve more decisive action.
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