You might imagine that, with 10 goals in 35 appearances for Manchester United this season, Juan Mata’s future is completely safe.
Indeed, he has grown into his role in the right of a front three and brought composure and goals to a team who desperately needed to kick on in the spring and did so, with thanks to Mata.
But, there is still a big question mark, for us, over where Mata fits into the starting eleven, in the long term.
Manchester United have shown their financial might over the last year and look set to spend big again this summer. But with Financial FairPlay kicking in, even Manchester United need to consider the balancing of their books and Mata is one of Manchester United’s top earners.
We expect another pacey wide man to come in this summer for the right hand side. If this happens then Louis would have to depart from his preferred 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, with Mata in the hole, if he wants to squeeze the Spaniard into the side. This may well be the masterplan. Mata has shown he has great technique and finishing ability and perhaps he can be most dangerous at number 10.
But he’s too good and too expensive to spend another half season on the bench. And, for us, he lacks the dynamism to be a really top, game-changing, player. He has played well in a team that isn’t playing particularly well and Manchester United’s overall shape still lacks cutting edge and speed of play. Mata surely isn’t the long term answer out wide, where United need more pace and power.
So Louis has a big decision to make in terms of Mata at Manchester United. LvG’s success in the transfer market will determine the fates of many players but we think Mata’s future could be the subject of some discussion by LvG and his team this summer.
FINAL WORD: The most difficult future to decide in the entire Manchester United squad. Mata is a lovely player but hasn’t yet found his best role and he won’t want to spend more time on the bench nest season. Does LvG build the team around him or let him go? KEEP