Juan Mata is one of the nicest guys in football – but Manchester United have a big decision to make.
Mata’s contract is up in June and it’s unclear whether the Spaniard will get a new deal.
He has started only two Premier League games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He was an unused substitute against Arsenal in the FA Cup.
Mata has to prove he can fit with United’s quick counter attacking football implemented by Solskjaer.
He has shown this season he still has a lot to offer, with impressive free-kicks against Newcastle and Juventus.
Normally it would make little sense for United to give Mata away for free, especially with Goal claiming PSG and Barcelona are interested.
The sticking point is Mata’s wages, set against his age and playing time.
Mata earns £140,000 per week (via Independent) – almost twice as much as Victor Lindelof and nearly three times as much as Jesse Lingard.
Mata has only started nine league games out of 23 and has not completed 90 minutes since December 8.
His decreased playing time under Solskjaer indicates his on pitch action is not likely to suddenly turn around.
Mata is a big talent who United should want to keep; just not on his current wages.
At 30-years-old, he should no longer be one of United’s top earners.
If he wants to stay at Old Trafford then he must be prepared to accept a pay cut to do so.
Should he decide against it and try to earn more and play more regularly elsewhere, it would be hard to begrudge him either.
Player and club must each do what is right for them, and if interests do not align, it’s time to part ways.