Juan Mata faces uncertain Manchester United future

by Richard Laverty

Despite scoring the opening goal against Cambridge United almost three weeks ago, Juan Mata didn’t appear for Manchester United again until the final ten minutes of the 2-1 defeat at Swansea.

The Spaniard has endured an up an down time since joining from Chelsea little over a year ago. Initially, he struggled for top form before going on an impressive goal scoring run towards the end of last season.

Mata’s statistics continue to be impressive but under Louis van Gaal he has also struggled to hold down a set place in the team. He got an extended run in the team when Wayne Rooney got himself suspended for three games but didn’t do enough to cement himself a place in the starting XI.

The former Chelsea star has certainly saved his best form for home games and that may hold the key as to why he has found himself on the bench more often than not. Bar the Tottenham game in December, Mata has struggled to impose himself on away games and with Marouane Fellaini now preferred as an alternative in the attack, Mata has had to make do with a place on the bench.

Whilst on paper, Mata being dropped for Fellaini sounds ludicrous, United have been effective with the Belgian on the pitch. Maybe it is a simple case of tactics but Mata’s lack of defensive nous is what drove him out of Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. Could it be keeping him out of van Gaal’s side too? Van Gaal is a manager who loves multi-functional and balanced players so there is every chance he could feel United are too exposed with Mata in the no.10 role, at least away from home.

Undoubtedly popular, Mata certainly should have a future but with Ander Herrera in good form, Angel di Maria and Wayne Rooney holding down set places and Fellaini’s effectiveness as a ‘Plan B’, Mata may find himself becoming a square peg in a round hole, as he was at Chelsea 18 months ago.

While by no means suggesting Mata is certain to be sold in the summer, it’d be a fair comment to say his future is, at least right now, uncertain.

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