Opinion: Arsenal should resist temptation to sign Juan Mata on a free in the summer

According to the Daily Star, Arsenal are weighing up an approach for Manchester United’s Juan Mata as the playmaker’s contract expires in the summer, meaning he could be available on a free if new terms aren’t negotiated.

What’s the story?

Mata’s exploits at Valencia during Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s tenure with the Spanish side saw the former secure a £24m move to Chelsea where he made 82 Premier League appearances, before a January 2014 switch to Old Trafford.

The 30-year-old has seen his minutes reduced as United begin to predominantly line up in a 4-3-3 this season, a formation which does not accommodate an attacking midfielder so easily, although he has still made seven appearances and been directly involved in two goals – showing he still has the quality to play at one of the world’s biggest clubs.

Arsenal appear ready to part with one of their longest serving players in Aaron Ramsey this summer, as the Welshman’s contract expires in June and the club have taken a contract offer off the table. The rumoured interest in Mata suggests that Emery is keen on a reunion with his compatriot to replace the former Cardiff man come the end of the season.

A pointless move?

Currently a bit part player under Jose Mourinho, the Spaniard is unlikely to be much more at the Emirates Stadium.

Alex Iwobi looks transformed this season under new management and seems to have found a new lease of life playing in Emery’s dynamic system, while Mesut Ozil won’t be benched as the club’s highest paid player and new captain. To accommodate both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, the former has been shifted out to the left and that currently completes the Gunners’ best attack.

If Mata is to move to the Emirates he would probably ask for an improvement on the £140,000 a week he is reportedly raking in at United and would therefore be likely to become the club’s third highest paid player. Although the number 8 would not command a transfer fee if Arsenal can agree pre-contract terms, it would be strange to grant such high wages to a player who would not likely be a regular starter and is entering the twilight of his career.

Emery should resist the temptation of signing the diminutive left-footer in the summer and look elsewhere for better value as he seeks a Ramsey replacement.

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