On a night when David Moyes suffered the ignominy of his Manchester United side crashing out of the League Cup on penalties to Sunderland at Old Trafford - United missed four of their spot-kicks - there was at least some solace for the beleaguered United boss when Chelsea accepted a £37m bid for Juan Mata.
Mata will undergo a medical today at United before completing the move that will see him more than double his £70,000-a-week Chelsea salary.
Chelsea have been braced for a bid since Monday for Mata and finally received the offer, which will break United's transfer record, triggering their acceptance and the release of the player.
The London club are not expecting the 25-year-old to return to them and have made plans for his replacement. A medical has been booked in for today for Mata and personal terms accepted.
United chose a slightly unusual route to lodge their bid, using intermediaries, but Chelsea have accepted the offer as an official one and manager Jose Mourinho has sanctioned the move.
Mata's father, Juan Snr, and his representatives flew in from Spain yesterday morning after it became apparent that an offer would finally be made. They are keen for Mata to make the move after he fell out of favour under Mourinho, which has placed his chances of playing for Spain in this summer's World Cup finals under threat.
Contrary to claims, Mata – Chelsea's Player of the Year for the past two seasons – did not have to ask to leave, with Mourinho accepting that the scale of United's offer was too big to refuse, given that his priorities in strengthening his team lie elsewhere. The bid was at a level that it will have been deemed impossible to turn down by the Chelsea board.
Mourinho's only stipulation was to make the move happen quickly, so he could possibly reinvest ahead of the window closing on January 31.
There were indications last night that Chelsea might attempt to hijack Liverpool's £7m move for the Basle winger Mohamed Salah.
Chelsea's greater priority remains the acquisition of a striker, but, despite wanting to sign Wayne Rooney, United will not enter into negotiations.
While United continued to publicly deny having submitted an offer for Mata, Chelsea were privately confirming that a bid had been lodged and accepted.
Negotiations between the two clubs and Mata's representatives progressed well yesterday and the former Valencia midfielder, who signed for £23.5m two years ago, is set to surpass Dimitar Berbatov as United's record signing today, subject to a successful medical.
Chelsea were also privately confirming that they did not expect Mata to return to the club and that he had agreed terms to go. United's reticence in confirming their dealings with Chelsea are rooted in the club's failure to attract any of the several marquee signings targeted by manager David Moyes and Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, last summer.
A public pursuit of Cesc Fabregas ended in disappointment, despite initial encouragement from the Barcelona midfielder and his associates, while efforts to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Leighton Baines also foundered during the final month of the summer transfer window.
United's move for Mata, who has been marginalised by Mourinho at Chelsea this season to the extent that he has started just 14 games for the club, comes in the wake of the club's 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday which left the faltering champions languishing in seventh place in the Premier League.
Despite previously insisting that United did not require another 'No 10' due to the presence of Rooney, Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj in his squad, Moyes has now sanctioned the move for Mata in a bid to kick-start his team's season and inject a much-needed morale boost, on and off the pitch.
Should he pass his medical over the next 24 hours, Mata is likely to be handed his debut against Cardiff City at Old Trafford next Tuesday, with Moyes keen to add further new faces to his squad before the transfer deadline next Friday.
Having identified the recruitment of a left-back and central midfielder as key priorities this window, United remain determined to pursue attainable targets. But although the club have been offered the chance to sign former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song from Barcelona, senior figures have ruled out a move for the Cameroonian international.
Fredy Guarin, Inter Milan's Colombian midfielder, has also been offered to United following the collapse of his proposed move to Juventus in a swap deal for Mirko Vucinic who is wanted by Arsenal on loan this month. However Juve are adamant they will only countenance a permanent £8m deal for the Montenegrin.
Inter are keen to offload Guarin, rated at £18m by the Italians, in order to raise funds for attacking reinforcements, with the San Siro outfit interested in United's out of favour striker Javier Hernández.
United, meanwhile, are set to sanction Cardiff's bid take Wilfried Zaha on a six-month loan to south Wales.
The £12m winger has been told told he can leave Old Trafford on a short-term basis after failing to secure regular football, but the England international will not be available to face United in next Tuesday's Premier League fixture between the two clubs. (© Daily Telegraph, London)