Jose Mourinho has defended his decision to let Juan Mata join Manchester United, following criticism from Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini.
Mata was named Chelsea’s Player of the Year in two of the three seasons he spent at the club, but he had lost his place in the side under Mourinho this term. Instead, the Portuguese has mainly opted for Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian as his creative trio in midfield, and all have been performing well enough to leave the Spaniard on the sidelines.
United were heavily linked with the former Valencia playmaker during the summer, yet there appeared to be little chance of the Blues letting him leave for a rival. However, when David Moyes came knocking with a club record offer of £37million just last week, things moved quickly and the 25-year-old will complete a move to Old Trafford imminently.
This has not gone down to well with Wenger and Pellegrini, with Arsenal and Manchester City fighting Chelsea for the title. United have to play both sides in their remaining fixtures, but have already faced Chelsea twice, meaning there is every chance Mata could play a starring role against them thus aiding his former club’s chances of glory.
Mourinho, though, has defended his decision to let his number 10 make the move to the Reds. The former Porto, Internazionale and Real Madrid coach has revealed that the player was keen to remain in the Premier League, so when United showed an interest, he was always going to be tempted. And had either the Gunners or City, or any other club for that matter, made a move, they too could have had a chance of signing him.
“Why not?” said Mourinho. “Every club does this in other countries, so what’s the problem to do it here? If a similar situation happens (and) instead of us, instead of Manchester United, it’s Arsenal or Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur or Liverpool, we would do the same. If the offer was the same and Juan desired to go, it would be the same.
“It’s difficult for me to leave him out of the team. Manchester United is obviously a big club, and when a player is not happy, but he loves to be in the Premier League and wants to stay in the Premier League, he thought about leaving. He’s tried to find the best option for him and he decided to go to Manchester United, which is understandable.”
Mata, meanwhile, is set to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms with United on Saturday, with the transfer expected to be completed within hours. It is unlikely he will be too short of match fitness despite his lack of action, so he could be in line to make his debut for the reigning champions against Cardiff City on Tuesday evening.