Arsene Wenger wasn't alone in complaining about Chelsea selling Juan Mata to Manchester United in January, as Manuel Pellegrini doesn't believe that move is particularly fair either. Here's what the Manchester City manager had to say when pressed on the matter:
‘United are getting a very good player, but personally I do not agree that a transfer like this can happen in the middle of the season. I do not think a player should be allowed to go from one club to another in the same league in January."
‘It is not correct at this stage of the season. Maybe Arsene Wenger had a correct reason, when he pointed out Chelsea have already played United home and away, but my argument is a more general one. 'I just feel that if a player has made more than five or six appearances for his club, then he cannot join another one in the same league at the midway point.'
‘I don’t particularly think Chelsea will gain an advantage from this. Maybe Manchester United have an advantage because Chelsea wanted to sell him.'
'Maybe United have an advantage in this case. I am talking about general reasons and not the specific reason that they have played already against them. I think in this transfer window, players that play more than five or six games for the same club cannot change to another.'
I get what Pellegrini is saying here, and frankly, it's a lot more sensible than the complaint coming from North London. The Premier League is the only competition English clubs take part in where a player is not tied to a club as soon as he's played for them, so in many regards he's got a good point.
On the other hand, adding this sort of rule would have all sorts of downside as well. Top clubs will still spend in January, regardless of whether or not they're acquiring talent from English clubs. Keeping that money within the league has its advantages, giving some of the smaller clubs a fair amount of cash to work with.
Regardless, it's nice to see that both Manchester City and Arsenal seem to be a bit annoyed that they'll now be facing a stronger Manchester United side when they meet them this spring. Here's hoping Juan Mata performs well enough that they both revisit the issue later on.
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