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Juan Mata | The Forgotten Man

credit: Manchester Evening News

Juan Mata has been a loyal servant to United for over seven years. Throughout that time, he has served four different managers, each of whom had four different plans and systems for the club. This saw continuous changes in the squad. Despite this, Juan Mata was always present in some way or another. The Spaniard was constantly used by world class managers such as, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, winning trophies under both managers.

Showing his medal after the Europa League Victory in 2017 (The Sport Review)

While at United, Mata has won the FA cup, the League cup, the Europa league and the community shield. This makes him one of the most decorated players in the current squad. His class is also showcased internationally, as he was integral to Spain’s world cup and European championship winning sides. Mata’s class cannot be denied, and his CV certainly looks appealing. So why isn’t he a starter for United now?

Juan Mata sitting on the bench, which he does more often than not (Daily Express)

One reason for Mata’s absence from the starting line-up involves the introduction of the one and only – Bruno Fernandes. Bruno’s involvement needs no explanation, with the Portuguese ‘Magnifico’ currently having more goal contributions than games. As Mata is an attacking midfielder, this means he must compete with Bruno Fernandes for that spot. Bruno is currently one of the best midfielders in the world. The presence of Paul Pogba and Donny Van de Beek, this also means that Juan Mata may not even be the second choice.

Mata on the same field as Bruno (Daily Star)

Unfortunately for Juan Mata, it seems all the positions that he can play are currently filled, with the right winger spot being filled up by the rotation of Daniel James and Mason Greenwood. Despite Mata’s excellent technical ability, he doesn’t have the physical intensity to fight for a place on the wing, as Solskjaer prefers the wingers to be electric down each channel. Due to his age, 32, the pace aspect of his game is not as prevalent as it once was, this makes his appeal to Solskjaer’s attack less convincing. So, what does this mean for our number eight.

Credit : The Daily Mail

As the January transfer window has just become open, we may see a great deal of change for the club. One change may be the sale of Juan Mata. For other clubs, Mata will be undoubtedly appealing as he has certainly not lost his quality by any means. The club has given him an extremely high contract, which is due to expire in the summer of 2021. While there is a one-year extension clause in his contract, the club may not think the wage justifies the low number of appearances he contributes. He may even make less appearances this season due to the world class midfield we have. 

While it is a shame for a loyal servant to potentially leave the club, United cannot pay extremely high wages to players who don’t play much.  

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