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Hugs for Juan? Has Mata’s time expired at Old Trafford?

Having now had his induction at Carrington, the nitty-gritty starts for Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. There is certainly going to be a fair few additions to the ranks under the new man, but there will also be a few departures as the manager looks to put his stamp on his new club. One such departure looks likely to be Juan Mata. Sold by Mourinho at Chelsea to Manchester United, both the Sun and the Daily Mail report that the Spaniard will yet again face the axe from the managers plans in spite of there being different surroundings.

Barcelona is the reported destination for the 28-year-old midfielder in a bid to avoid a less than favourable reunion with the man that got rid just two years ago. I can’t envisage anybody that feared the appointment of the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss more than Mata, a man that appears to enjoy playing for Manchester United as much as a supporter would, and he must surely now be feeling his time is up at Old Trafford. It would be quite the fall from grace, having featured heavily in former manager Louis van Gaal’s plans and having scored the equaliser in the FA Cup Final as his side went on to win at Wembley. Not only that, but it is unlikely United will recoup a large percentage of what was shelled out for the player when he signed.

Although Mata was a regular feature for United under Louis van Gaal, he fell under criticism from a section of supporters for the level of his performances certainly last season. Time and again he was culpable of going hiding when his side needed him most, the creative spark that he is more than capable of providing was more often than not left in the changing room, and more often than not he was a figure very much on the periphery of the action. Still, that being said he spent a lot of his time out on the right-wing, and by no stretch of the imagination is Juan Mata a winger. He doesn’t possess the pace for starters.

Questions have been asked of him, that’s for sure. But one that doesn’t get asked enough is why did he end up spending the vast majority of his time out wide when he is naturally more suited to the number 10 role? Simply put, it is because there were players performing better than he was in that role and yet the chance of him producing was too important to miss out on. When he was trusted through the middle, he looked weak and languid, a far cry from the maestro us supporters believed United had signed in such a shock deal. Jesse Lingard shone there, and that left Mata second in his manager’s thoughts.

However, last season aside Mata still provided us all with moments of magic. His two goals against Liverpool at Anfield are going to be remembered for some time, his bicycle kick watched over and over again on YouTube in a bid to stir emotions before big games. He seemed genuinely proud to be pulling on the red jersey (even if his performances didn’t always reflect this) week by week, and he spoke so highly of the club in his blogs (those bloody blogs). If this is to be his swansong, then it has been short but mostly sweet for the Spaniard and he is a player that will certainly be missed on personality if not product. It isn’t confirmed, but it feels inevitable. Mata may be hugging in warmer climates very soon.

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