Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he has not even considered allowing Juan Mata to leave Manchester United this summer after the Spaniard played a starring role in their 3-0 victory over Brighton in the League Cup.
With United searching for more forward options in the final few days of the transfer window, Mata issued a reminder of his own quality by scoring once and assisting another at the Amex.
Solskjaer said the 32-year-old sets an example for the rest of the United squad as he hailed the playmaker for his contribution on and off the field.
“He created more or less every moment in this game that was of the highest quality,” said the United manager. “He is a very valuable member of the squad and a top professional.
“He is an example for everyone to look at, how you conduct yourself and how you perform when you get the chance.”
Asked about reports linking Mata with a move, Solskjaer added: “We have not discussed that one at all. You can see the quality he brings, and the composure.”
The victory at Brighton came after United had a loan inquiry turned down for Italy winger Federico Chiesa, following their failure to make a breakthrough in negotiations with Borussia Dortmund for Jadon Sancho – with former club captain Gary Neville labelling their transfer struggles “appalling”.
United have spoken to Dortmund over striking a late deal for Sancho, but the price put forward was below the German club’s asking price of £108 million.
While the deal is not dead, there are just five days left to complete the biggest transfer by a Premier League club and it has led to United casting a wide net over alternative players on loan.
Fiorentina were not willing to consider a loan for Chiesa, 22, who is wanted in a £45 million permanent deal by Juventus. Watford’s Ismaila Sarr is also only available for a cash deal.
United have looked at taking Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele for the rest of the season, although Ronald Koeman, his manager, wants him to stay at the Nou Camp.
Sancho has been the No 1 target for Solskjaer this summer, but Dortmund have been firm on their £108 million valuation of the England forward and are under no immediate pressure to reduce their asking price.
It’s appalling that in this market which is probably the easiest in PL history to get transfers done that United haven’t done more yet ! They must get Ole a CB , LB and Forward pre deadline! The others are managing to get things over the line why not United !
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) September 30, 2020
Neville has accused his old club of being “appalling” in the market this window, given that clubs have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and players should be easier to buy.
They have signed Donny van de Beek in a £40 million deal from Ajax, but the pursuit of Sancho has dragged into the final week of the window.
Neville also retweeted Jason Burt’s Daily Telegraph interview with Sevilla director of football Monchi, where the Spaniard questions why United do not have a similar role to his.
“It’s appalling that in this market which is probably the easiest in PL history to get transfers done that United haven’t done more yet!” wrote Neville on Twitter. “They must get Ole a CB [centre-back], LB [left-back] and Forward pre deadline! The others are managing to get things over the line why not United!”
When accused of putting pressure on United to panic in the market, he replied: “Panic Buy! They’ve needed these positions filling for 12 months, had a national lockdown to regroup and reset and ample time to manoeuvre deals to a conclusion.”