Did Juan Mata share a pitch with his replacement on his final Manchester United home game?
Juan Mata’s Manchester United career is nearing its end. This week the Spaniard played in his final home fixture for the Red Devils, emotionally waving goodbye to fans at the final whistle.
He has probably done enough to feature in the upcoming two away games to end the season too; consider them ‘bonus Mata’ for fans.
Mata played a key role in United’s victory over Brentford. It was no coincidence United completed more than 400 passes in a single game for the first time in the Premier League this season, on Mata’s first start.
What we know, is that the veteran is heading for the exit. But don’t rule out the fact Mata’s replacement was on the pitch with him at the same time at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Eriksen could replace Mata
Like Mata, Christian Eriksen fills a rare football niche of a player who everybody loves, even opposition fans. The way he has fought back from a near-death experience at Euro 2020 has endeared him to a lot of people.
But this is not just a fairytale return for Eriksen. He has been receiving praise because his performances for Brentford have deserved it, pulling the strings in a 4-1 win over Chelsea.
He did himself no harm with a stellar performance at Old Trafford against United, constantly testing United. He touched the ball 79 times, had two shots on target, and created two chances.
With Mata and Jesse Lingard both set to depart along with Paul Pogba on a free, Eriksen could certainly come in on a two-year deal and play a valuable role.
Despite his faith in youth, new boss Erik ten Hag has coupled this with a reliance on experienced stars too, with Dusan Tadic playing a vital role for him at Ajax, along with Sebastien Haller and Steven Berghuis this season.
Eriksen is the type of signing Ten Hag would have made at Ajax this summer, and he could be a smart addition for United.
United need a creative player who can come in and help Ten Hag steady the ship, and take pressure off Bruno Fernandes, like Mata did on Monday night.
If young stars Hannibal and Shola Shoretire are sent out on loan, it would make even more sense for Eriksen to be brought in. Still only 30, whoever signs Eriksen are going to get at least two years of top level football. Don’t rule out the possibility that Manchester United take the plunge.
On a free transfer, this could be a wise move which helps unlock other key players, and Eriksen has been playing in a deeper role for Brentford, showcasing his versatility, while allowing transfer fees to be spent on more expensive additions.