They wrote him off. He was said to be out the Old Trafford door back in June. He’s now on the verge of signing a new long-term contract.
With Jose Mourinho in the Old Trafford many (including me) thought it was the end of Juan Mata’s United career. Now he is playing some of the best football of his career and has earned his way into the good books of the man who sold him back during their Chelsea days. It was not all smooth sailing though. We all remember the glare he gave Jose after being substituted half an hour after coming on in the Community Shield back in August. That was supposed to it, wasn’t it?
Mata’s importance to United is highlighted by the fact that he is United’s second highest goal-scorer with 9 goals behind only Ibrahimovic. Mata’s influence at United is clear with him scoring the only goal against Manchester City in the EFL Cup and the opener against Arsenal coming to mind. Praise from Jaime Carragher is not distributed like sweets, especially for a United man. He has consistently performed better than other No. 10s like Mesut Ozil and David Silva in big games. Yet he doesn’t get the praise his contemporaries get and what he rightfully deserves. Juan is the player who Chelsea’s Player of the Season when they won the Champions League and Europa League in consecutive seasons.
Mata’s form this campaign has been so superb that he is now reportedly to be in contention for Spain selection ahead of the upcoming international break. First-team opportunities were supposed to be limited but he is selected week in and week out. Like every player he will have his off day, but the advantage with Mata is that his off day is very rare. One thing that will have encouraged Mata is Mourinho’s new found trust in his No.8. He has already appeared 39 times and not many can boast a number bigger at the club.
Mata’s football IQ breaks all scales. Yes he’s not pacey and his defensive contribution is questionable. But he does enough to help Valencia out on the right. And as the season moves forward he will get you important goals and assists. And with Ibrahimovic absent for the next three domestic fixtures, Mata will have to step up like he has done time and time again this season. Mata has already spoken of his desire to hit the 10-goal mark this season and with over 2 months of football left and him needing 1 goal we can safely assume that he will get his goal. It will be his 3rd United season with at least 10 goals. Another stat that suggests Mata’s talent is the fact that no other midfielder has played a part in more goals since his arrival in England.
Juan really is a Special One and him signing a contract extension will please the Old Trafford faithful who have a special liking for the Spanish magician and his method of pulling the strings behind the main man.