Since Mourinho’s appointment, United fans have been forced to accept Mata is likely to leave the club. However, Mata is keen to show Mourinho what he is capable of and despite United making four first-team transfers already, Mata has not been one of them.
While at Chelsea, despite winning two Player of the Year Awards, Mourinho sold him to United for £37.1 million as the former Real Madrid manager preferred Ramires, Oscar and Willian as the attacking midfielders. Despite selling the Spaniard, Mourinho evidently recognised the 28-year-old’s talent – hence the huge price United paid for the player – suggesting that Mata simply lacked the pace that the style of play needed.
Next season United fans should expect a similar style of play and this may force Mata out of the club to the disappointment of many fans. In the two years Mata has spent at the club, he has made 104 appearances, scored 26 times and has been influential as the club aimed to win trophies without Sir Alex Ferguson for the first time in 30 years since the Scotsman’s arrival to Old Trafford in 1986.
With the imminent arrival of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to United and with Mourinho’s preference of faster players, Mata’s impending departure may soon become a reality. It would be sad if Mourinho was to not give Mata a second chance as he has become loved by many fans due to him being heavily involved in some of United’s strongest performances over the last few years as his skill often compensates for the lack of speed.
Mata joined United in the January transfer window to lead the club’s attack in the hope it may save Moyes’ failing season. The issues for Moyes were far worse than expected though and one big signing was never going to be enough to salvage the poor season. During Louis van Gaal’s time, Mata became a vital member of the club’s attack with him playing every Premier League match during which he created 53 chances last season – considerably more than any other United player. In fact, he created the same number of chances as Fellaini, Lingard, Memphis, Schneiderlin and Valencia combined.
Subsequently, it is no surprise that Mata is receiving interest from other clubs. Considering his past relationship with the Portuguese manager who has already sold him once previously, many managers are eager to bring the Spaniard to their club and they recognise it is not only likely to happen, but it would be a good chance to get hold of one of the Premier League’s most accomplished playmakers. Everton appear to be one of the leading clubs in the race to lure Mata away from Old Trafford with Ronald Koeman having previously worked with the 28-year-old while he was at Valencia. United have sold many players to Everton in the past – Louis Saha and Tom Cleverley most recently. Both players fitted the club’s style very well and Mata would do too.
If Mata does leave, United fans will remember the Spaniard well. The scissor kick against Liverpool will undoubtedly be the highlight of his time in a United shirt followed by the FA Cup Final goal he scored which will always be overshadowed by Lingard’s superb volley. He has been extremely influential in any success the club have managed in recent years and often dragged the team along at times during Moyes’ management.
Now, United have the arrivals of Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan and with Rashford, Depay and Martial embarking upon a second season to adapt to the Premier League and to impress under new management, Mata might be considered surplus to requirements by Mourinho to the unhappiness of many United fans. However, Mourinho ought to give Mata a second chance; he has evidently always recognised the skill from the Spaniard and might see it useful to this United team. At 5ft 7, Mata has proven that pace and physical presence is not as important as many might think. If Mourinho does give Mata another chance, the majority of United fans will be happy with the decision and Mata will be keen to prove to Mourinho that he is still an important player to have.