Manchester United have confirmed that they have entered contract talks with attacking midfielder Juan Mata as Ole Gunnar Solksjaer starts putting his summer plans in place.
What’s the story?
The 33-year-old’s current deal is due to expire at the end of this month, but the Red Devils have the option to extend his contract by a further year.
Mata played just 511 minutes of Premier League action last season as United finished in second place, 12 points behind champions Manchester City.
Woodward heading for a mistake
The diminutive creative talent has enjoyed seven relatively successful years at Old Trafford, scoring 51 goals and providing 47 assists in 273 appearances for United, winning the FA Cup, Europa League and League Cup during his stay.
However, Mata’s powers have wained in recent years, limiting the World Cup winner to just 14 league starts since the beginning of 2019/20, reducing him to a bit-part role in Solskjaer’s set-up.
His lack of action, therefore, brings into question the reasoning behind United’s renewed interest in extending the Spaniard’s stay with the 20-time English champions.
With United expected to embark on a summer of spending, with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice and Raphael Varane all linked, renewing an ageing stars reported £160,000-per-week wage packet seems illogical.
The financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has hit all football clubs hard, but not many sides have suffered as big a loss as the Red Devils.
It means departing chief executive Ed Woodward is going to have to be extremely clever and prudent in the transfer market this summer in order to secure the club’s top targets.
Committing such a large figure to a player like Mata, who has arguably become a liability on the biggest stage throughout his twilight years, is a mistake that may further taint the unpopular 49-year-old’s legacy even further.
While Mata has previously acted as a good mentor and added an experienced voice in the dressing room, United have now moved on and require a different set of stars to bring silverware back to the red half of Manchester. He’s not up to the standard required, keeping him around makes no sense at all.