Juan Mata to Manchester United: Red Devils Sign Chelsea Star

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2014

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After struggling to get onto the pitch for Chelsea throughout the first half of the English Premier League season, Juan Mata has transferred to Manchester United. 

Manchester United confirmed the news on Jan. 25:

Manchester United is delighted to announce that Juan Mata has completed his transfer for a club-record fee of £37.1 million.

Juan Mata said: "I am thrilled to be joining United. I have enjoyed some very happy years at Chelsea but the time has come for a new challenge. United is the perfect place for me and I am excited at the chance I have to be part of the next phase in the club's history.

"Chelsea is a top club and I have many friends there but you cannot turn down the chance to join Manchester United. I look forward to helping the manager and the team be successful in the coming years."

David Moyes said: "Juan is one of the finest playmakers in the game today and it's a real pleasure to have secured his signature. He's been instrumental in Chelsea's recent success, with a notable 28 assists and 32 goals in his last two Premier League seasons.

"I have been impressed with the excitement he has shown to be part of the new Manchester United. I know our fans have admired Juan for some time now – he has always played well against us – and I know they will be delighted to see him in the red of United, starting on Tuesday."

Mata then posted an emotional message on his official website thanking Chelsea:

As you can imagine this is a very important day in my life, and with these lines I would like to express the memories and emotions that come to me as I write.

This letter is written from my heart, and first of all I would like to say that I will never forget all the affection given to me by the Chelsea fans. From the very first day until the last. With your support and affection I have grown up as a player and I have had an amazing time both on and off the pitch. I will always feel the gratitude towards you. Always. No words are enough to give back all the things I have received. 

There has been plenty of good moments: the FA Cup, my first trophy as a Blue; the immense happiness of winning titles for the first time in the club's history, such as that magical Champions League night in Munich and the Europa League... On the other hand, I have experienced some complicated situations from a personal point of view, mainly during the last six months.


Although many of you, like myself, never thought this moment would come, this is football and a new chapter is about to begin. I would have liked to say good bye to all of you in the stadium, or in a press conference, but it has not been possible. I'm sure,

i will be able to do it in the future, because is what you deserve. Evidently, today is a day of mixed feelings, remembering the past and looking forward to the future and what it has to bring.

I look forward to being happy and to enjoy what I like the most: play football. I will never forget my time in Chelsea and the affection I take with me, I will keep forever. I wish you the best. A big hug to all of you. 

THANK YOU so much, 

On Jan. 25, Manchester United posted a photo of Mata with David Moyes:

They added a second after the deal had been signed:

FOX Sports (via Sky Sports) also notes that "United will reportedly hand over £37m for the Spain international, far exceeding their previous club record of £30.75m they spent on Dimitar Berbatov in 2008."

FOX Sports also added this via Jose Mourinho:

Things are going in a good direction. We allowed Juan to travel and have a medical and I think sooner rather than later things will be finalized. He's a fantastic player and despite not playing a lot for us in the last period could be a very important player for us. But Juan had this fantastic opportunity for him. It's what he wants. It's what he asked us to accept. Chelsea Football Club is proud to act this way, in an open way, in a human way.

Over the past few seasons, the attacking midfielder had established himself as one of the top players in the English Premier League. Last season, he totaled 12 goals with 12 assists in league play while helping Chelsea finish third in the table.

In all competitions, he finished with 20 goals and 28 assists for his club during the 2012-13 campaign. Fernando Torres was the only player on Chelsea with more goals.

However, Mata is more than just statistics. He is a creative player who was able to break down defenses when it mattered most. Whenever his side needed a big play, it seemed as though the Spanish player could provide one.

This has helped him achieve a great deal of team success throughout his career:

Considering he is still only 25 years old, his list of trophies with Valencia, Chelsea and the Spain national team is quite impressive.

Unfortunately, new manager Jose Mourinho has not felt the same about Mata's ability. The talented player has only started 11 of 22 matches this season and is often taken out of the game early. 

After being removed in the Jan. 1 first match against Southampton, the midfielder was visibly upset with his coach, forcing Mourinho to respond to rumours of a potential transfer after the match, via the London Evening Standard:

I want to keep him. I don't want him to go. That is my opinion, my wish, but my door is open. The club's door is open too so when a player wants to speak to us we are there waiting for them.

If you are asking do you want the club to sell him? I don't want to.

While Mourinho might have wanted his player to stay, it appears that a transfer was the best solution to keep everyone happy. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 05:  Juan Mata of Chelsea celebrates after scoring the winning goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on May 5, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Get
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and defender Rio Ferdinand expressed their excitement for Mata's arrival on Jan. 25:

Mata will now get a new start to his career with Manchester United. The midfielder's experience and skill should allow him to get onto the first team right away with his new club, and his presence will be felt immediately.

Chelsea will either look to replace the player before the transfer window closes or simply increase the roles of Oscar, Willian and others.

No matter what happens, the Blues will likely remain in contention for a league title throughout the 2013-14 season.

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