Manchester United’s highly unusual use of intermediaries to conclude the Juan Mata deal may have stemmed from their strained relations with Chelsea after last summer’s dispute over Wayne Rooney.
United are likely to have been turned down flat, had they called Chelsea asking for permission to speak to Mata, after being made aware of his desire to leave west London. Though the details of how the deal has been done are yet to emerge, the possible sequence of events is that Mata instructed his agent to find him a new club, United were made aware through a third party, but then needed an intermediary of their own to begin discussions.
The club could not have approached Mata directly or they could have faced the same charges of trying to tap up a player which resulted in manager David Moyes’ former club Everton being hit with a £45,000 fine and embarrassed this week. The identity of United as the club with principal interest in Mata could therefore have been masked by intermediaries until it became clear that there was business to be done. Then they made their move.
The deal – which is likely to see the 25-year-old undergo a medical at Carrington today – reveals the way that intermediaries and agents can get in on the action when clubs are unable to do business with each other. The alternative explanation of United’s use of a third party is that they wanted to call in transfer market experience which they possessed when Sir Alex Ferguson and former chief executive David Gill ran the club.
United are understood to have had no contact whatsoever with the influential businessman Kia Joorabchian, who took Carlos Tevez from United to City in 2009 and who has been on the edges of this deal.