Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata could be set for a move to Italian giants Juventus with Arturo Vidal moving in the opposite direction. Reports in Italy claim Juve are keen on the Spaniard and are prepared to let United take their long-term target to Old Trafford. United have been chasing Vidal for over six months but the Italian champions have spurned United’s advances. It now appears that Juve are willing to entertain a swap deal, if it means Mata ends up in Turin.
Although Mata has been in fine goal-scoring form for United, he was signed by David Moyes in January and has so far failed to impress his new manager, Louis van Gaal. He started in the last match against Everton at Old Trafford and is expected to play in the next two games as captain Wayne Rooney sits out a three-match ban. However, following van Gaal’s vow to never drop his captain, Mata’s days at Old Trafford look increasingly numbered.
Vidal appeared for his native Chile in the 3-0 defeat of Peru on Friday, but a serious knee injury prior to the World Cup meant United were not prepared to meet Juve’s asking price. Van Gaal is understood to have maintained his interest in the player but has been told that a swap deal for Mata is the only way he will get his man.
Local paper Manchester Evening News recently conducted a poll in which it asked United fans whether they would be happy to swap Mata for Vidal. They voted 60% in favour of keeping Mata at Old Trafford. The rationale behind some of the votes was that they did not trust Juve’s decision to let Vidal go all of a sudden. The fans said they suspected foul play in that the Italians wanted to offload the player for reasons that remain unclear. In addition to his major knee surgery, Vidal was recently left out of the squad after he returned home drunk after a leaving a party in the very early hours of the morning. It has been suggested that is discipline leaves a lot to be desired and so Juve are finally ready to cash in on the 26-year-old.
Vidal, who is a box-to-box midfielder in the mould of United greats Bryan Robson, Paul Ince and Roy Keane, is a key ingredient van Gaal has been missing. United pose a lot of attacking flair up front and in midfield, but they lack the steel and grit of a leader in the middle of the pitch.
If United do land Vidal in January, they will also look to follow it up with the signing of Aston Vila and Netherlands central defender, Ron Vlaar. Both players would provide the muscle the midfield and defines currently lack and would certainly put United back in with a good chance of a top four finish. The only disappointing thing for United fans is if a swap deal is agreed, Mata will be on his way out after just a year a the club.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd
Image courtesy of Calcio Mercato – Flickr License