Saturday 25 March 2017

Juan Mata set to stay at Manchester United with reduced role

Whether there will be a long-term future for Mata (pictured) under Mourinho at United remains to be seen. Photo: Reuters
Whether there will be a long-term future for Mata (pictured) under Mourinho at United remains to be seen. Photo: Reuters

Sam Wallace

Juan Mata has reached an understanding with Jose Mourinho that he will stay at Manchester United for the foreseeable future, although the midfielder has accepted that he will not be an automatic first choice, as he was last season.

The 28-year-old's future at the club was in doubt when Mourinho was appointed in May, given the doubts that the Portuguese coach has about the Spanish playmaker, whom he sold in January 2014, within seven months of his return to Chelsea.

While the squad will be reviewed in January, the intention for now is that Mata, the club's fourth most expensive signing of all time, will not be sold before Wednesday's deadline.

He has accepted that he will have a more limited role in the side, although he did start the first game of the season against Bournemouth and last Friday's win over Southampton.

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Mourinho's first choice for the right-wing role so far occupied by Mata will be Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the £26m signing from Borussia Dortmund, but he believes that there is also a role for the Spaniard to play.

The United manager insists on his wide attacking players helping out with defensive duties and it is in that regard that Mata has proved a problem to him in the past.

Whether there will be a long-term future for Mata under Mourinho at United remains to be seen but the player himself was eager to stay at the club.

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Mata was one United player in whom there was a great deal of interest, including from Everton, and it would not have been difficult to place him elsewhere for a good fee.

Slimming down the squad has been the priority in the last few days of the window with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward trying to cut the wage bill by moving on the most expensive fringe players.

Chief among those is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is on a massive contract at the club in excess of £200,000 a week.

Telegraph.co.uk

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