There is no suggestion United will ditch the Spaniard this season. However, his minutes could be severely limited given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s renaissance.
Mata’s guile and eye for a pass has seen him excel in the Premier League. Yet the £37million man (BBC) does not have the pace to thrive in United’s rediscovered attacking style.
Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are the go-to trio for Solskjaer and rightly so. Then there is Alexis Sanchez, who will not want to waste a second opportunity to impress.
That leaves Mata as a substitute at best, with his slower build-up play meaning he is better as a late addition than a square peg in a round hole.
Mata did start against Huddersfield (due to Martial’s injury absence) and Newcastle United. But that is not representative of his place in this team when everyone is fit and available.
United are best when they burst forward with pace. They need to break quickly and interchange as Rashford, Lingard and Martial do so well.
Mata still has a place at United but, with the next generation waiting in the wings, that role could grow increasingly limited.
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