Juan Mata’s Manchester United appears to be in doubt with the Spaniard’s contract running out in the summer. United manager Jose Mourinho has the option to extend Mata’s contract for another season, however this decision has not yet been made. Valencia have emerged as possible suitors for Mata, which would mean being reunited at his former club. The Spanish club would be able to sign the 29 year old playmaker on a free in the summer if Mata’s contract is not extended.
Mata spent four successful seasons at Valencia before moving to England and signing for Chelsea in 2011. He was then sold by current United boss Mourinho two years later. Many thought Mata would be one of the first departures under Mourinho at Old Trafford, however he has played a pivotal part in Jose’s reign so far. He has been influential this season, notably scoring two superb goals in United’s draw against Leicester. However, he has not been able to secure a place in his preferred position (no10) because of the form of academy graduate Jesse Lingard. Mata has been operating from the right hand side for the majority of his United career, under 3 different managers, with many United fans thinking it is time for more natural pace down the right wing.
Enter Alexis Sanchez. It is unclear yet where Mourinho will play the Chilean, but with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard both in outstanding form, you would feel it’s Mata’s place that is most likely to come under threat. Sanchez is more of a natural threat from the right wing and played there for Barcelona under Pep Guardiola. This would push fan favourite Mata to the bench, already filled by Marcus Rashford, so Mata could be starved of game time due to Sanchez’s arrival.
However, United are still involved in 3 cup competitions and need strength in depth, so there could yet be a role to play for the Spaniard. Mourinho gave his reasoning for wanting Sanchez after his side’s 1-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor:
“In this moment there is no competition for places,
we have four attacking players for three positions, three are starting, one is on the bench, Zlatan for the whole season was not available.”
It seems that Mourinho still feels he is light in attacking options so one more may need to come in the summer if Mata is to depart.
As a huge fan of Juan Mata it would be a shame to see him go, and he still has that ability to change a game single handily.
Mata could still have a future at Old Trafford but it depends if the Spaniard see’s his future elsewhere.