Chelsea should have offered £37m Man United target for striker

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With recent reports suggesting that Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata is set to complete his £37 million move to Manchester United on Friday, I must confess to being utterly perplexed at the Blues' motives behind such a deal.

While it is undeniably true that the tricky Spaniard has fallen from grace somewhat at Stamford Bridge since Jose Mourinho replaced Rafa Benitez in the managerial dugout during the summer, it should not be forgotten that he is a very gifted player who has the capacity to provide a serious injection of confidence at Old Trafford.

Could it be that Chelsea were simply and honestly just putting the interests of a loyal player at heart? Is this deal going to come to pass because Manchester United's 2013/14 season and lack of development under David Moyes has been so bad that they are truly no longer seen as a direct threat in the title race either this season or in the years to come?

Perhaps they just couldn't bring themselves to turn down a bid that most would agree is probably slightly more than Mata is worth? Or is this a calculated risk to make the remaining fixtures against Manchester United tougher for the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City?

Whatever the reasons for Chelsea apparently agreeing to such a sale, they remain rather unclear and hazy at present and it is very difficult not to think that the West London outfit could have played the Mata situation to a far bigger advantage.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Spanish side Atletico Madrid had re-emerged as potential suitors for Mata and were even prepared to go as far as offering Manchester United first option on full-back Filipe Luis and Diego Costa in an attempt to get them to abandon their own pursuit of the player.

Now, if we take from this that Atletico could have been willing to give up Costa in the chase for Mata then, in my opinion, Chelsea are foolish not to have at least attempted to exploit that for their own gain and offered some sort of swap deal.

Diego Costa, who has been linked with a move to Chelsea during the current transfer window as well as their title rivals, is a phenomenal goalscorer who has already notched 19 goals in just 20 domestic appearances so far this season as Diego Simeone's side have so far managed to sustain an impressive title push.

And what is the one area of Chelsea's squad that is in desperate need of strengthening, I hear you cry? Attack, of course. Despite Samuel Eto'o's impressive display on Sunday, he is not a viable long-term option, while Demba Ba appears to have little future at Stamford Bridge and Fernando Torres continues to frustrate.

If Atletico were ever serious players in the Mata stakes and were willing to give up Costa in the process, then that would have been perfect for Mourinho, surely, in as much that he would have the satisfaction of seeing Mata - who Chelsea will cope fine without, I hasten to add - move away from the Premier League and therefore not to a direct title rival.

Possibly in return, he could have engineered a deal for Costa - who reportedly has a rather-attainable sounding buyout clause of £32 million at the Vicente Calderon - whose ability and physicality is as such that he could easily have adapted to the Premier League and lead the line for Chelsea for many campaigns to come.

Now while Mohamed Salah, who will reportedly join Chelsea subject to a medical and personal terms, is a very entertaining player capable of producing the spectacular, it is hard to see him starting regularly and it's disappointing that Mourinho wasn't able to engineer this season to his ultimate advantage and bag a top-class forward.

This is not to say that Chelsea won't or indeed can't make a move for Costa in the future, however. But it seems to me that this could have been an opportunity to steal a march on their rivals. Instead, they could have just given them a chance to find their feet once more.

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La Liga
Premier League
Manchester United
Juan Mata

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