Juan Mata’s future at Manchester United looks to have been decided. With his contract running down, no sign of an extension, and a lack of game-time, the Spaniard will surely be playing elsewhere next season.
But Mata’s stats for the current campaign tell an interesting story.
He may have only played 12 times in all competitions, but the 32-year-old has made his mark.
With three assists, Mata is United’s joint fifth-highest when it comes to making goals for others. That is a lot more impressive when you consider he has barely featured.
Bruno Fernandes is clearly United’s creative catalyst, but the Portuguese cannot do it on his own. He has waned in recent weeks, meaning Mata’s minor injury has come at the worst possible time.
The Spaniard should be back soon and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cannot overlook him.
After all, Mata has a 90 per cent shot accuracy this season – the highest at the club by some margin. Two of his assists have come in just three Premier League appearances and he would be a regular starter at most other clubs.
What Mata offers is quality without the need to warm up. That is demonstrated by the fact that he is excelling in some key stats having barely featured.
Precision is key
That shot accuracy could be particularly important. After all, United have struggled in three consecutive 0-0 draws.
They needed a single moment of magic and Mata’s laser-like precision could have been key.
When Solskjaer called for reinforcements against Crystal Palace, it was Scott McTominay and Dan James. What he needed was his majestic Spaniard.
Injury meant that was not to be. Yet he is too experienced and too precise to be overlooked when he shakes off his setback.
Mata may be off this summer. But he may still have a goal or two to score before then.