Moyes: We didn’t think we’d get Mata

The Manchester United coach says the club acted quickly when they heard Mata was available.

Manchester United's record signing Juan Mata could make his United debut against Cardiff City on Tuesday. Picture:

CAPE TOWN - Manchester United manager David Moyes on Tuesday said he didn't think the Red Devils would pull off the signing of Spanish international Juan Mata.

The former Real Madrid and Valencia player joined United in a club record £37.1 million deal (approximately R680 million) on Monday after falling out of favour at Chelsea under manager Jose Mourinho.

The 25-year-old was Chelsea Player of the Year for the past two seasons.

Mata is expected to make his debut for his new club against Cardiff City later today.

Moyes, who was under pressure after a string of below-par performances this season, says the club acted quickly when they heard Mata was available.

"I didn't think we would do much business in January because I didn't think the players we were interested in would be available. But as soon as we got a sniff that Juan could be available, we went after it right away."

Mata says his move to United is the right step for his career.

The dynamic playmaker says he is looking forward to linking up with his new teammates.

Fearing that the lack of game time at Chelsea would jeopardise his chances of going to the 2014 World Cup, Mata jumped at the chance to join United.

"Looking at the last six months when I wasn't playing a lot, it was like a new challenge for me. Sometimes in your career you need to clear your mind and take the chances that come your way. This opportunity was a massive chance for me to carry on my career in England."

Chelsea was initially reluctant to sell Mata to United, despite the Red Devils languishing in the middle of the log this season.

Atletico Madrid sounded out the possibility of taking Mata back to Spain, but the player only had eyes for Manchester once their interest was publicised.

"I think the Premier League is a very good league for me and I feel very happy in this country. So when this opportunity came up, it was the right moment and United was the right club," Mata said.