Monday 20 November 2017

Is Jose Mourinho about to sell Juan Mata...again?

Jose Mourinho sold Juan Mata to Manchester United when they were both at Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho sold Juan Mata to Manchester United when they were both at Chelsea.

Tom Rooney

Given their shared history, Juan Mata probably began considering alternative employment the moment Jose Mourinho was appointed as Manchester United manager.

Mourinho, of course, offloaded the Spanish playmaker in January 2014, just halfway through his first season back at the helm in Stamford Bridge.

If anything, Mata’s sale was an apt reminder of how ruthless Mourinho can be with players he feels don’t suit his needs.

Between Mourinho’s stints at Chelsea, Mata helped the club in acquiring an incredible haul of silverware, including the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup.

Mata was awarded Player of the Year during his first two seasons at the club but, upon the former Real Madrid boss’ return, he found himself playing second fiddle to the more dynamic Oscar.

In total, he made 135 appearances for the London outfit, scoring 33 goals and providing 58 assists, but Mourinho allowed him to join David Moyes’ United for £37.1m.

Now, even with the Mourinho era at Old Trafford yet to get officially underway, it would appear Mata will depart United.

There have been widespread reports and rumours, from a variety of sources, that Everton would be willing to part with £25m for Mata’s services.

With United expected to secure the signature of Borussia Dortmund attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the coming days, and Zlatan Ibrahimović apparently told at his unveiling that his squad number next season would be eight, the 28-year-old’s time in Manchester looks to be coming to an end.

Mata, a compact amalgam of languid craft and cerebral invention, simply lacks the physical thrust Mourinho favours in a number 10, though he could make a useful addition to Ronald Koeman’s nascent project on Merseyside.

Mata has never consistently recreated the brilliance he showcased with Chelsea for United. There have been memorable moments such as his sumptuous brace at Anfield, when United dismantled Liverpool during Louis van Gaal’s first season in charge.

That the Dutch coach largely deployed him as a right winger certainly didn’t aid the Spanish international in rediscovering his most potent self.

To be fair, during two and a half predominantly insipid seasons at Old Trafford, Mata has managed a very respectable 21 goals in 86 appearances.

And, indeed, it was his equaliser that got United to extra time in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace, which they went  on to win thanks to Jesse Lingard's stunning strike and, in turn, secure the first piece of silverware of the post Ferguson era.

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