Manchester United has bid 37 million pounds ($61 million) for Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata, the team’s first move in the January transfer window.
United is waiting for its Premier League rival to sign off on the club-record deal for the 25-year-old Spain international, a person close to negotiations said Thursday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not yet been finalised.
The transfer would eclipse the 30.7 million pounds United paid to sign striker Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham in 2008, and show that the American owners are willing to spend to revitalise a struggling team. The message would also go out to the fans that the owners unquestionably back their manager.
In a sign that Mata’s departure from Chelsea is nearing after falling out of favor, the club’s player of the year for the last two seasons did not train with the first team on Wednesday.
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Signing the 25-year-old Spain midfielder would be a coup for United manager David Moyes, and lift some of the gloom surrounding his team’s recent performances on the field.
The bright spot is they still remain in Champions League contention going into the round of 16 against Olympiakos next month.
But the team is seventh in the league, 14 points behind leader Arsenal, and facing a fight to secure one of the four Champions League places.
Having already exited the FA Cup, United missed out on a spot in the League Cup final on Wednesday when Sunderland won a penalty shootout at Old Trafford.
One fan was so distressed about the loss that he called an emergency number and asked to speak to former manager Alex Ferguson, who retired in May after more than 26 trophy-filled years in charge of United.