Pointing to the future
Whilst Manchester United's lackluster display against Sunderland highlighted the urgent need for United to make improvements, there have been some discussions amongst fans about whether Juan Mata is the player to address United's most pressing concerns.
Whilst those discussions have mostly ended in people saying "WHO CARES ABOUT THAT, IT'S JUAN MATA AND HE'S BRILLIANT" or words to that effect, and with the deal looking likely to go through, I thought it was still worth having a look at some of the specific reasons why that sentiment is spot on.
Celebrate good times, come on!
The summer transfer window did not go well for Manchester United. The season so far has been extremely short of highs and fairly replete with lows. The signing of a player with Juan Mata's quality will provide a lift to players and fans alike. It shows ambition. It shows the ability to attract really high-quality players, in spite of Sir Alex Ferguson's absence. It shows some intent to play the kind of football United fans enjoy.
Whilst he may not address United's most pressing needs, he brings the potential for some joy, and that has been much lacking at Old Trafford.
We'd prefer him in red, please.
Juan Mata is a player with an end product. Twelve goals and 12 assists last season saw him winning Chelsea's Player Of The Year award. If he can recreate that form at United, it will make an enormous difference.
Jose Mourinho may have decided to sacrifice those goals and assists for players who provide more defensive cover, but his caution is United's gain. United need players who will "put up the numbers," and Juan Mata is clearly one of those.
A boy who can do anything, but should not have to.
Adnan Januzaj's remarkable rise to prominence has been a joy to behold. However, an 18-year-old should not be relied upon to provide the entire creative spark for Manchester United. Injuries to Rooney and Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa's patchy form have meant that Januzaj has become perhaps United's single most important player.
When selecting his first XI for the second leg of the semi-final against Sunderland, David Moyes may have liked to have the luxury of resting the young Belgian. However, with a place at Wembley at stake, Moyes could not do without Januzaj's potential to make something extraordinary happen.
From around the 60-minute mark onwards, Januzaj looked exhausted, and very little of what he tried came off. The option to rest the young prodigy will benefit his development enormously.
Smiles ahead for Shinji?
The Shinji Kagawa enigma has been a cause of much debate amongst United fans. It has come to the point that very few remain convinced that we will ever see the best of Kagawa in red.
There is a line of reasoning which says that the signing of a diminutive playmaker who can play on the left or in the hole behind the strikers is bad news for Kagawa.
However, the arrival of Mata gives Moyes the option of moving to a genuine 4-2-3-1. Between Welbeck, Mata, Kagawa, Januzaj and Rooney, there are a plethora of tactical options for an exciting, intricate brand of football which would suite Kagawa perfectly.
Perhaps the signing of Mata, rather than further marginalising Kagawa, will bring out the best in him.
An ambitious attempt from Wayne.
Wayne Rooney's long-term future remains uncertain. Rumours persist about interest from other clubs, and Rooney himself has not by any means confirmed his intention to stay at the club at the end of his contract in 2015.
When he first publicly attempted to engineer a move away from United, Rooney accused United of lacking ambition. Since then, two league titles, a Champions League final and the signing of Robin Van Persie have made that accusation look a little foolish.
Juan Mata is the calibre of player to prove any club's ambition. There are rumours reported in today's Mirror that this is already having an impacting on Rooney's thinking.
His skills will provide a compliment for Rooney's, and if Rooney does end up leaving, Mata will make his absence felt less intensely. Plus, they look quite similar, so we literally might not notice.
An unquestionable likeable face
This might not seem that important, but it definitely helps. Robin Van Persie has endeared himself to United fans from his first press conference—the reference to the little boy inside him melted red hearts around the globe.
Juan Mata has long been a player that has been tough to dislike, even when playing for a rival. Partly because of the way he plays the game and partly because he has always come across as a decent sort, Mata has the potential to become a real cult hero at United, which will be welcomed during these difficult transitional times.