Why the special Juan still has plenty to offer Manchester United next season

Despite Manchester United triggering a clause in Juan Mata’s contract back in January to keep the Spaniard at the club until June 2019, there has been much media speculation in the media that Mata will leave in the summer transfer window, but does the 30-year-old still have something to offer United going in to next season? And is there really anything in it?

First arriving in the Premier League back in August 2011, Mata signed for Chelsea after four impressive seasons at Valencia. In two and a half seasons, Mata went on to make 135 appearances for the blues, scoring 33 goals and putting in a string of great displays. Helping led Chelsea to FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League glory, with Mata twice being voted Chelsea’s Player of the Year. However, after struggling for game time in his third season, then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho allowed him to leave.

This left the door open for David Moyes to sign up the Spaniard and Mata joined United for a then club record fee of £37.1 million. Yet despite putting in some avid performances and bringing back some positivity to the United faithful, he was unable to save Moyes season.

The following two seasons, under the tenure of former United manager Louis van Gaal, would see Mata become an important player for the club. With the Spaniard helping United secure UEFA Champions League football for the first time since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in Van Gaal’s first season at the club. Making 35 first team appearances and netting nine Premier League goals, including a wonder goal against Liverpool at Anfield. In the 2015/16 campaign, Mata continued to be a key player for United, making 54 appearances and scoring a vital goal at Wembley as United beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup.

Although after it was announced that Jose Mourinho would be taking over at United ahead of the 2016/17 season, there was much speculation in the media that Mata wouldn’t have a future at Old Trafford. Yet this wasn’t the case at all and this uncertainty was put to bed with the Spaniard gaining the trust of his manager, starting 34 matches and putting in some stellar performances.

Mata has continued to be a trusted member of Mourinho’s squad this season making 40 appearances. However, after only starting three of United’s last eight matches this season, there are questions marks around whether or not Mata still has a future at Old Trafford. Whether or not there is anything in these reports remains to be seen, but if Mata does stay with United next season there is no reason why the 30-year-old can’t be an important part of the squad.

In 28 Premier League appearances this season Mata has scored three goals and managed five assists, with an average player rating of 6.87. These are not the sort of statistics one might associate with a Manchester United player, who plays predominantly in an attacking role and on the eye it would also appear that Mata has regressed this season.

Yet these numbers are slightly misleading with Mata working tirelessly whenever he’s been called upon this season, constantly drifting in from the right-wing and finding pockets of space, dropping deep to pick up loose balls and always looking to make dangerous runs in behind, at times this season it’s been Mata who has made the team tick. Despite Mata’s numbers maybe not comparing with some of the other attacking options at Mourinho’s disposal, he offers the team something different.

With a great understanding of the game, bags of technical ability and the eye for a killer pass. There is no reason why Juan Mata can’t have a future at Old Trafford and be a valuable asset to Mourinho and too Manchester United.

Written by Jamie Mackinlay

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