United and Chelsea to swap Rooney and Mata? Surely not? Maybe….

José Mourinho and Chelsea have made it no secret that they want to sign Wayne Rooney from Manchester United this summer, and have earmarked the England international as the answer to their striking dilemma. The Old Trafford club have already rejected two offers for the forward and are understandably reluctant to sell Rooney to a Premier League title rival. However, there is the slightest of whispers in the British press this morning that Juan Mata could be included in a deal to try and tempt United to part with Rooney.

Initially the sceptic in me took over, but having thought about it in more depth, there very well could be some traction in this. Chelsea will know that United are very unlikely to sell Rooney to them, and will need a real motivation to give the Blues the player they want.

United’s main transfer priority this summer has been to add creativity to a midfield that at times last season looked static. Attempts to sign Cesc Fàbregas and Thiago Alcântara have fallen short, and the Red Devils look unlikely to find the creative midfielder to replace Paul Scholes that they so long before the end of the transfer window.

Mata would certainly add something spectacular to United’s midfield and has all the attributes that the Premier League champions have been looking for all summer. If the Spaniard was included in a deal for Rooney, United may well just be tempted to sell.

One area that the Old Trafford outfit have strength in depth is in attack. If Rooney stays at United he will have to compete for a place and is in no way guaranteed a starting XI spot. Danny Welbeck has started the season very well and has struck up a great understanding with main man Robin van Persie. With Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernández in the Red Devils’ ranks also, Rooney’s sale would be manageable.

Juan MataBut why would Chelsea sell Mata? Before Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge the idea of the Blues letting the Spain international leave was unthinkable. However, the former Valencia playmaker has been subject to subtle transfer rumours of a return to Spain throughout the summer, with links to Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Mata was surprisingly omitted from the Chelsea side that opened the season against Hull, with a fitness issue used as the excuse. He did return for the midweek victory over Aston Villa, but by the looks of things is not as integral a part of Mourinho’s plans as that of previous managers’.

The latest development is Chelsea’s reported hijacking of Tottenham’s bid to bring Willian to White Hart Lane. The British press are widespread in their assertion that the Brazilian has passed a medical at Spurs and was on the verge of a move to north London, only for the Blues to have entered the fray.

With the plethora of attacking midfielders at Mourinho’s disposal, surely another big-money signing in that position would be foolish? Not if the Portuguese coach is expecting Mata to leave.

There are certainly a lot of balls in the air and uncertainty. For the Rooney-Mata swap to happen there will be thorough negotiations and each side has a lot to consider.

Would United rather have a disgruntled, want-away Wayne Rooney or a shiny new playmaker as a long-term replacement for Paul Scholes?

Could Chelsea consider letting arguably their best player from last season leave Stamford Bridge to finally end their striking dilemma? With Oscar, Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Marco van Ginkel, André Schürrle, Victor Moses and possibly Willian to cover, is it worth letting Mata go to secure Rooney’s signing?

One thing is for sure – there is an exciting remainder of the transfer window in store.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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