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United finally get Mata in record switch

Manchester United have announced they have reached an agreement with Chelsea to sign Juan Mata.

The midfielder will have a medical, almost certainly today, and personal terms are also still to be agreed.

However, unless there are any hitches, Mata will make his debut in Tuesday's Premier League encounter with Cardiff at Old Trafford.

"Manchester United is pleased to announce it has reached agreement with Chelsea Football Club for the transfer of Juan Mata for a club-record fee," said United in a statement.

"The deal is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms.

"A further announcement will be made in due course."

It has seemed just a matter of time before last night's announcement was made, with it becoming obvious Mata would be joining United as early as Tuesday.

Although manager David Moyes refused to discuss the 25-year-old following Wednesday's League Cup semi-final loss to Sunderland, sources involved in the deal had confirmed it was close to being agreed.

COMPLETED

United expect to have Juan Mata in their squad to face Cardiff when his club record £37million move is completed.

United have been unable to sign off the transfer as quickly as initially intended due to the red tape involved in Chelsea's capture of Basle midfielder Mohamed Salah.

Speaking yesterday lunchtime, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho suggested he was flexible in his approach to the transfer.

United boss David Moyes will hope Mata's arrival will galvanise a team that endured its lowest moment on Wednesday when they failed to navigate a League Cup semi-final against the Black cats, despite taking a first-half lead.

That they then lost what many claim to be the worst penalty shoot-out ever only increased the air of gloom.

It is patently obvious, however, that Mata's arrival can only be the start of a lengthy rebuilding process, with former United skipper Bryan Robson acknowledging bolstering central midfield – from which Michael Carrick is now likely to be absent with an ankle injury sustained in midweek – is now a priority.

"It is what everybody's been talking about for a couple of seasons now," Robson said.

"Michael Carrick has been very consistent, but everybody else has struggled to stamp their authority.

"I still feel it's an area we need to strengthen, but it's only David Moyes and his staff who can make those decisions.

"But new signings, especially when they're top class, can give an injection of enthusiasm within the squad.

"It's a new challenge for Mata and I'm sure if he does sign, he'll enjoy being in the team and being wanted."

Meanwhile, Robson has rejected criticism of Alex Ferguson's attendance at games.

PRESENCE

Ferguson has been a regular presence at matches since recovering from hip surgery.

Whilst Moyes has insisted it is not a problem, others feel Ferguson is increasing pressure on his fellow Scot by providing a visual reminder of the success United have had over the past two decades.

Robson, who sat with Ferguson and Bobby Charlton for the first-leg defeat at Sunderland, cannot understand the argument.

"It's a load of rubbish," said Robson. "To see Sir Alex at matches shows that he's got great support for the club.

"For anybody trying to make an excuse and say, 'Sir Alex is in the stand watching me play. I'm going to wilt' – well why didn't you wilt when he was manager?

"It's just weak excuses that the media and some ex-players and managers have come out with. It's a pathetic excuse.

"If Sir Alex wasn't going to games and wasn't giving David Moyes support, it would show he doesn't care, is selfish and is getting on with his own life.

"Instead, it shows he does want to see the club do well."


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