Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal stopped his new club signing long-term transfer target Cesc Fabregas because he believes Juan Mata is very similar and capable of shining in the same position next season, according to the Daily Star.
Fabregas completed a £30m Premier League return to Chelsea last week, but it was United rather than former club Arsenal who had worked for more than 12 months to sign the Spanish international and add much-needed dynamism to central midfield.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward's work was all in vain though, with Van Gaal deciding that a move for Fabregas would have been frivolous with United already possessing a top playmaker in Mata.
The Red Devils spent a club-record £37.1m on Mata in January and must now hope he can find the form which left Chelsea fans devastated to see him swap Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford.
It remains to be seen if Van Gaal plans to use Mata in his favoured central position, although turning down the chance to buy Fabregas from Barcelona is the strongest indication yet that he plans to do just that.
Mata showed flashes of potent passing and clinical finishing during the second half of last season at the Theatre of Dreams, a rare silver lining in a disastrous campaign that saw David Moyes, the man who bought him, get the sack before the end of the season.
The 26-year-old ended up with six goals and seven assists in the Premier League last season, underwhelming numbers that Fabregas easily surpassed in La Liga despite being a scapegoat for a trophyless Barcelona campaign, although he was afforded the luxury of 55 appearances to get there.
Fabregas scored 13 goals and created a whopping 22 in all competitions for the Calatan giants during that time, but it wasn't enough to convince new Barca boss Luis Enrique or his former mentor Van Gaal that he's worth having.
Jose Mourinho had a very different view on the star and moved very swiftly to snap him up, the kind of decisive action in the transfer market that Red Devils fans can only dream of.
United are still waiting for Woodward and Van Gaal to put their transfer plan into action, although despite showing faith in Mata there is little doubt the former Premier League champions desperately need new recruits.
Regardless of who does eventually arrive in the North West you can expect Mata to be a pivotal figure in Van Gaal's Old Trafford revolution, all while Fabregas bids to do the same for Chelsea in a shock move that may well set the tone for another fiercely-competitive Premier League campaign.
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