A dramatic day at Old Trafford saw Manchester United knocked out of the Capital One Cup semi-final 2-1 on penalties, with Sunderland going to Wembley, as the Premier League champions moved to complete the £37m signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea.
Only United captain Darren Fletcher scored of their five kicks, as Sunderland’s two successes proved enough to book a date with Manchester City on 2 March. Rafael da Silva’s effort was saved by Vito Mannone to clinch victory for Gus Poyet’s side.
The only bright note for United was the deal for Mata, who will double his wages when he completes his move from Chelsea today. The 25-year-old Spain international did not train with the west London side today and told friends that he was destined for Manchester. He will have a medical today before signing in a deal which will see his wages jump from £70,000 to £150,000.
United maintained throughout the day that there had been no bid from them for the Chelsea midfielder. However, it is understood that they had intermediaries working to drive home the deal.The use of third parties is an unusual way of doing transfer business for United, which has traditionally involved former chief executive David Gill directly, acting with Sir Alex Ferguson. The new way of working may be an acknowledgement from Gill’s successor, Ed Woodward, that help is required to secure the signings which eluded United this summer. Chelsea were comfortable with this.
Kia Joorabchian told The Independent that though he had been consulted on the deal, he was not a “third party” understood to have been used by United. The transfer is expected to be concluded in the next 24 hours, lifting spirits around Old Trafford. Mata, who told manager Jose Mourinho today that he wanted to leave, is expected to be introduced to his new team-mates in the next 48 hours.
Mata is considered only the first part of Moyes’ reconstituted team. United are understood to have been asked to be kept informed about developments surrounding Internazionale midfielder Fredy Guarin, after his swap deal with Juventus’s Mirko Vucinic fell through. Inter have instructed Guarin’s agent to find a club for the 27-year-old as they need the money. They may be willing to do business if they could take Javier Hernandez in exchange for the €20m (£16.4m) Colombia international. Guarin is the kind of box-to-box player who United seem most to need.
The importance of Mata’s presence was immediately revealed when a study by the respected United analyst Andy Green suggested that the costs to the club of failing to qualify for any European competition would be the estimated £25m matchday income and a further £31m TV income. Today’s Deloitte report in football finance estimates that United would stand to lost £41m by not qualifying for next season’s Champions League.