A decision on Juan Mata’s contract is due to be made by the end of this month. The Spaniard will be a free agent when his current deal expires on June 30.
Talks are ongoing and Spanish newspaper Sport claim Mata is set to be offered a one year contract extension.
The extended contract will involve a wage reduction to reflect Mata’s minimised role in the team. The former Valencia attacker is evaluating the proposal.
It’s time to move on
This reported offer from United is a sentimental move. United would not sign a free agent to be a back-up attacking player, so why extend Mata’s deal?
Last season Mata started six Premier League games only. It’s hard to see that substantially changing next season.
United have a plethora of attacking players and this will increase if Jadon Sancho’s move goes through.
There are young players like Amad pushing for minutes, along with Anthony Elanga, Hannibal, and Shola Shoretire.
Every time Mata is named in a matchday squad, that is one fewer spot for one of those players.
Last season Mata was an unused substitute 25 times in all competitions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likes to include him, but rarely wants to play him. So what’s the point?
Mata, 33, can still play. But he should step aside at United. If he returned to Spain he could find a club where he could start 20 plus La Liga games in a season and feature more often.
He is not the played United shelled out £37.1 million to sign from Chelsea in 2014, and he has not been for some time.
Across the last three Premier League seasons he has just 30 starts combined, with those numbers dwindling each season.
Everyone likes Mata, but…
Mata is a popular player on and off the pitch. But that should not change United’s decision.
When it comes to contracts United are terribly sentimental. Nemanja Matic was given a three-year deal last summer, and Phil Jones’ contract has been proven to be quite ridiculous.
Sport report United hope Mata will join the club’s coaching staff and climb the ranks behind the scenes at Old Trafford.
This could still happen even if Mata leaves United. The club should keep the door open for when he retires from playing. There is no need for a rolling contract until he does so.
Give the youngsters a chance
Giving more minutes to academy players has to be the biggest reason not to extend Mata’s deal.
Yes his experience can help them, but not if he is blocking their playing time.
This past season Arnau Puigmal quit the club to return to Spain after a promising campaign with the under-23s in which he scored seven goals and provided three assists in 12 matches.
Could he have benefitted from getting Mata’s minutes in the first team? Would he have decided to then stay?
Shoretire, Elanga and Hannibal all recently signed new contracts and there is no danger of them leaving, but frustration could creep in if they begin to find opportunities limited.
It is time for Mata to move aside and let the youngsters try and find their way. By staying he is only making it more difficult.
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