Juan Mata has an uncertain future at Manchester United this summer as he’s out of contract in the coming months and has spent the season on the periphery. The 33-year-old signed a one-year contract extension in July 2021 but has struggled for playing time this campaign, so a departure looks on the cards.
Mata joined United from Chelsea in January 2014 and has gone on to make 281 appearances in all competitions, scoring 51 goals with 47 assists. The Spanish international has fallen down the pecking order in recent years, however, starting only eight Premier League games in 2019/20, six games in 2020/21 and zero in 2021/22.
Bruno Fernandes has been preferred in an attacking-midfield role, while the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo pop up in wide areas, so there’s been no place for Mata. It doesn’t help that the 33-year-old has scored only one league goal since 2019, so it’s easy to see why he’s been overlooked.
Mata has spent the last 11 years in England but could return to Spain this summer if reports are to be believed. The playmaker, who’s been at Real Oviedo (1998 – 2003), Real Madrid (2003 – 2007) and Valencia (2007 – 2011), has interest from Real Sociedad and Real Betis, but it remains to be seen where he’ll end up.
The fact Mata has remained at Old Trafford for so many years despite being surplus to requirements highlights how little attention has been paid to the squad. The Spanish international could have been sold for a tidy sum well before his deal ran down, so it’s another transfer fee and wages down the drain.
And while Mata leaving is the right decision for all parties, it’s sad to see a player of his calibre stagnating when a lot of clubs would have killed to sign him years ago. He’s now in the eve of his career and has barely played football.