Man U

Manchester United: Juan Mata – Keep or Sell?

Mata - The Enigma

Difficult one

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.

Mata - The Enigma

Mata – The Enigma

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



  1. Jimmy Mac

    May 26, 2015 at 5:47 am

    It does depend on the players Van Gaal buys in and sells on as well as the formation/s he employs next season and the one after. The 3-5-2 formation and the pressing, possession based football was borne out of necessity; the ever changing personnel in defence simply couldn’t be relied on, there were no swash buckling box to box players, too many out of form wingers, isolated strikers starved of proper service and an injury list as long as your arm.
    I expect the high pressing, possession based game to stay but I have a suspicion (hope) that Van Gaal is looking to make it more dynamic a la Barcalona 2015. Neither of them are touchline hugging wingers but both Neymar and Suarez have the acceleration and trickery to play out wide and cut in; depay is obviously not on that level but he has the same kind of attributes and plays in a similar vein and there is talk of Gaitán also coming to Old Trafford. So far so good, but its hard to see Van Gaal replicating the Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta midfield with any of Carrick, Blind and Mata…good as they all are…let alone finding Messi mark II. Kevin du Brune (were he to be available) could be a possibility in the Messi type role if he could translate his current form into the EPL with United where he previously failed with Chelsea but it would probably be too big a burdon on the lad just now. Benfica’s Anderson also looks a great prospect but . Herrera is perhaps the one player we have who does look as if he could be part of that kind of midfield, alongside Gundogan perhaps. This is all little more than hypothetical fantasy of course and ignores the fact that adhering exclusively to such a set up/formation would make several current United players redundant or superfluous, including; Fellaini, di Maria, RvP and Mata not to mention the strengthening of the defence that would be necessary regardless.

    There is talk of Gaitan being signed, if this true Van Gaal will have 5 wingers in the first team squad (plus Nani), someone will have to be sacrificed and if he buys a right back then Valencia would seem to be the one to go. I would be surprised to see Van Gaal cut his losses and sell di Maria after a single poor season but, if the player can’t settle and wants out, thats where the FFP savings will come from. I wouldnt be that surprised to see him at PSG or even back at Real if he agitates for a move, perhaps in the January window if he still isn’t producing the goods.

    It would seem odd to have so many wingers and not play 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 but that would suggest a return to a more counter attacking style of football and, having invested an entire season and pre season in drilling the squad in a high pressing, possession based style of play, it would be somewhat self defeating to abandon it just as it started to become second nature and produce good results. However the three defeats in a row and the draw against Arsenal showed that superior possession doesnt always produce wins; we need more of a cutting edge, more dynamism

    I think RvP is far more in danger of being moved on than Mata and expect Van Gaal to buy an explosive young striker like Lacazzete to replace him.
    Even if this probably fanciful scenario were to reflect Van Gaal’s plans it would take another year or two to implement and in the meantime Mata is probably safe regardless of whether I’m somewhere near to the truth or merely projecting my own fantasies.
    As long as I’m fantasising here is my dream team made up mostly of the more likely possibities being linked with United (who isn’t? I here you ask) playing 4-3-3

    Coleman Otamendi Garay Rojo
    Herrera Strootman Gundogan
    Gaitan Rooney Depay

    Squad: Navas, Blind, Shaw, Smalling, Jones, McNair, Carrick, Pereira, Pearson, Mata, Young, Lacazzete, Wilson

    • RedManc

      May 31, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Mata left Chelsea because he didn’t want to be a squad player/impact sub, and who could blame him when just the season before he was easily in the top 3 or 5 players in the EPL. What makes you think he’d accept an off-the-bench role here?

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