Chelsea and Manchester United have provisionally agreed a £40m fee for Juan Mata, though the champions are yet to make a formal bid and any deal to take the 25-year-old to Old Trafford remains dependent on him personally informing José Mourinho of his desire to move. Negotiations between officials from the two clubs are at an advanced stage, with the transfer said to be "almost complete" by sources close to the discussions. Despite the lack of an official offer from United for Mata, who has found first-team opportunities relatively limited at Stamford Bridge this season under Mourinho, the London club anticipate that situation changing soon as there is a little over a week of the current window remaining. There is an instinctive reluctance at Stamford Bridge to lose their player of the season from each of his two full campaigns at the club, sentiment expressed publicly by Mourinho over recent weeks when the manager has been asked about Mata's immediate future. Yet the Spaniard has completed 90 minutes only three times this season, starting 11 league games, and, with the World Cup to come in the summer, his frustration on the sidelines has been acknowledged sympathetically. Other clubs have expressed tentative interest in the forward, most notably Paris Saint-Germain, with Atlético Madrid going as far as to seek to take him on loan for six months with an option to make the move permanent in the summer. Yet the prospective deal that would be lodged by United would eclipse all-comers with Mata, who would be cup-tied in Europe this term, favourable to the idea, intent as he is to perform regularly for a prestigious club. David Moyes's side languish 14 points from the Premier League summit and six from the Champions League places, but the club retains its mystique. Whereas in the past the Chelsea hierarchy have had the final say on outgoing transfers regardless of the manager's opinion, the decision now will rest with Mourinho. The Portuguese could yet block any move, though his stance is likely to be shaped by Mata's attitude. The Spaniard, who is contracted until 2016, would not naturally agitate for a transfer but, if he makes clear his desire to move in talks with the management, the club are expected to yield. Mata is due back at Cobham, with the rest of the Chelsea players, on Wednesday after two days off. A similar policy was adopted over Kevin De Bruyne this month, with Chelsea's instinct to loan the player to Atlético only for Wolfsburg to bid £18m. The Belgian met key members of the club's hierarchy to make clear his desire to join the Bundesliga club, but it was only once he had confirmed as much in face to face talks with Mourinho that his departure was finally sanctioned. While Mata's would constitute a considerably more significant sale, the same principle will apply.
Chelsea and Manchester United agree provisional £40m deal for Juan Mata
The Guardian | Jan 22