United, Chelsea agree on $79m Mata deal
MANCHESTER United's £37-million (S$78.8-million) bid for playmaker Juan Mata has been accepted by Premier League rivals Chelsea.
Britain's Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday that the Spaniard had agreed on personal terms with the English champions. He was to have undergone a medical check-up yesterday.
Observers agreed that the addition of Mata to the Red Devils' line-up could not have been more timely, following their humiliating exit from the League Cup at the hands of Premier League strugglers Sunderland on Wednesday.
The BBC, for example, noted that "watching United struggling in vain for a spark against Sunderland was an illustration of why the purchase (of Mata) makes sense".
The fee for the Spaniard would break United's transfer record paid for Dimitar Berbatov, who joined in 2008 from Tottenham for £30.75 million.
Mata has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge after struggling to cement a regular starting spot under manager Jose Mourinho, who has favoured Brazil's Oscar and Willian, and Belgium's Eden Hazard.
United beat Sunderland 2-1 at Old Trafford in Wednesday's second leg to leave the aggregate score at 3-3, but the visitors prevailed 2-1 in a penalty shoot-out.
United manager David Moyes later admitted: "We didn't play well enough. If we were (to go through), we were going to stumble over the line."
Jonny Evans' first-half header had levelled the tie, but United were unable to seize the momentum thereafter, with Sunderland, the Premier League's second-last club, enjoying the majority of possession and matching United almost chance for chance.
The penalty shoot-out made for particularly painful viewing, with Darren Fletcher the only United player to score, as Sunderland won thanks to successful attempts from Marcos Alonso and Ki Sung Yueng.
United's Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj, Phil Jones and Rafael all failed to convert from 12 yards. The team were without Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
United have already lost five times at home this season and have now been eliminated from Cup competitions at Old Trafford twice in less than three weeks, having fallen to Swansea City in the FA Cup on Jan 5.