The sad story of Juan Mata. Having escaped Jose Mourinho to go to the fresh start of Old Trafford, his nemesis has reappeared in the north west to cripple his own ambitions once again. The Spaniard must be wondering just what the next step can be in his career, as Mourinho’s name bellows around Manchester like some sort of imposing monster from a childhood nightmare.
Manchester United’s FA Cup triumph – heavily involving Mata – seems to have been brushed aside by the club’s hierarchy as a meaningless façade for Louis van Gaal’s reign. Mata, at his best, is pivotal to a team’s play and can be a regular contributor in both the goals and assists charts. Unfortunately, United fans seem to have not seen the best of the former Valencia man, as his career has stagnated since shining so brightly in the league in a Chelsea shirt.
If it’s time for the next chapter, here are FIVE clubs that could have a shout…
A return to where he initially burst onto the scene? Valencia are in a dark patch at the moment, with on and off the pitch troubles making the future of players uncertain.
The signing of Pako Ayestaran as manager for the next couple of seasons will hopefully provide some stability to a club that has a lot of quality in their squad at the moment. Mata might not be heading straight back to Champions League football if he moves to Valencia, but it may be the return to home comforts that he needs.
Like Manchester United, there is a changing of the guard taking place at Everton. The removal of Roberto Martinez leaves the club in a period of uncertainty that would not seem ideal for players to move to.
However, Mata could be the calming influence that the Everton side needs. There is a lot of talent at Goodison and, as devastating as it can be, there is often a headless chicken nature to their attacking that Mata would help to correct.
With the Europa League looming for West Ham, Mata would not be taking a step down in European competition by moving back to London.
Slaven Bilic is clearly in need of extra depth and Mata could be the calibre of player to really dominate in a side of West Ham’s stature. Whilst Dimitri Payet can operate from a wide area, Mata playing off of the striker at West Ham would offer them another creative outlet that they have been so desperately short of.
Few players have seemed less suited to Diego Simeone than Juan Mata.
However, the sort of competitive, feisty nature of Simeone could rub off on Mata and make him an even better player. The Spaniard doesn’t have the pace or power that Simeone tends to desire, but a player like Mata could add a different dimension to his side and it would be an intriguing move for both parties.
Whenever a big name is considered available, you can guarantee that Paris Saint Germain are going to be sniffing around.
The leading name of the footballing nouveau rich would surely be tempted by a player of Mata’s talents. The former Chelsea man wouldn’t exactly fit in with the current system employed by Laurent Blanc, but the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic could mean a change for their style.