What’s The Mata With Juan?


When you sign for a new club for a fee of £37.1m, then you’d probably expect to still be an automatic first choice starter nine months later. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with classy midfielder Juan Mata at Manchester United.

The Spaniard was dropped in the teams capitulation against Leicester City last weekend and failed to regain his starting place when Man United took on West Ham yesterday.

Legendary Dutch manager Louis van Gaal has decided to play Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao up top. That move has seen captain Wayne Rooney drops into the hole behind the strikers and that decision has pushed Mata out of the team.

Now we can’t doubt Mata’s talent and skills. He has a wonderful knack when taking set pieces. In his three full EnglishPremier League seasons, the Spanish internationalist has created thirty-one assists. That is a phenomenal record. He also bagged twenty-four goals, plus he already has two this campaign. He also has the key ability to keep hold of possession when he gets hold of the ball.

So the problem obviously isn’t what he can do when he has the ball. Yet he seems to find himself out of Louis van Gaal’s preferred starting eleven. It’s starting to feel like the start of last season all over again.

Last year, Jose Mourinho once again took control at Chelsea. Many viewed Juan Mata as his main asset, as the Spaniard was probably the ‘Blues’ best player in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge. But the ‘Special One’ decided that the creative man wasn’t for him and would only use him sparingly.

Now Van Gaal seems to be doing the same.


Well it looks like it’s his off the ball contribution that worries talented coaches like Louis and Jose.

The twenty-six year old hasn’t been blessed with explosive pace. He also struggles in a tackle and can’t work back as well as the likes of Rooney (Man Utd) and Oscar (Chelsea). A player like Mata also relies on space and time, currently at Manchester United they are seen as vulnerable and that means that the opposition are on you from the first minute, badgering you off the ball.

If you look at Man United’s current midfield with Angel Di Maria, Danny Blind, Ander Herrera and Rooney. They are all players with good legs and 100% commitment. Those are attributes that impress Van Gaal, hence why they are in the team. Now out of them Rooney probably would be the most likely, in terms of footballing prowess that would make way for Mata. Yet Van Gaal made Wayne his captain and said he is almost the star player, who is nearly un-droppable at Old Trafford just now.

So that could mean less game time once again for Juan Mata. Although he should figure against Everton next weekend as Rooney was sent-off against West Ham, due to a blatant kick out at Stewart Downing. Injuries are also a big problem at United at the moment, so the Spanish maestro should still get opportunities this term.

But come January and he is still on the fringes more than he isn’t then could Juan Mata expect another January move? We’ve seen a lot of talk about a return to Spain as a makeweight for deals for defenders such as Nicolas Otamendi (Valencia) or Miranda (Atletico Madrid).

At the moment it seems as though Mata is a luxury that Man United can ill afford as they look to rebuild.

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