While Ander Herrera made a big point of waving goodbye at the end of the season and announcing his departure, there was a remarkable silence from Juan Mata.
For a player who has been at United since January 2014 and has communicated well through his club blog, you would expect his potential departure and farewell to have more focus.
Mata is out of contract at the end of the season, and all the signs point currently that he is set to stay.
The failure to say goodbye is probably because he is not saying goodbye at all.
United have also made a point to publicise a photo of Mata wearing next season’s kit.
This would be odd, if the intention was simply to release him in a month’s time.
United releasing a picture of Mata in new kit sure looks like a sign he’s set to stay pic.twitter.com/VtKi7vQH9I
— United In Focus (@UnitedInFocus) May 23, 2019
Why it matters
There were pictures taken of the likes of Marcos Rojo and Alexis Sanchez who are also expected to leave, but there are two differences.
- United did not publicise their pictures on their Instagram page
- Both players are currently under contract next season
If no buyer comes in, United have to keep on paying them, and potentially play them too. Mata’s situation is different.
Was a picture of Herrera taken too a couple of months back? Probably, but United haven’t released it and never will.
United must be confident that an extension can be agreed with Mata, before he officially becomes a free agent.
If he does not sign a new deal, then releasing the image before he has, is an odd move, and a miscalculation on United’s part.
Views on whether he should have his contract renewed are mixed. At 31 he is a player whose best days may be behind him, but he can still contribute, as his free-kick winner away to Juventus showed.
If United are focusing on buying young players, having Mata in the squad for a year or two as a positive influence can’t hurt, so long as a renewal is not an active choice ahead of signing another attacker.