Juan Mata: Disrespected by club and country?
Original image Via: Pixbay/Mula Miszczu
Ah, Juan Mata... I'll never forget the day when he arrived at Manchester United's AON Training Complex via private helicopter, donning the suavest of suave suits, getting ready to call Old Trafford his new home. Perhaps that's the best thing David Moyes did for the Red Devils, £37million seems like a drop in the ocean in terms of his transfer fee, too.
His on-ball brilliance, the vision, the execution, the overall output. Mata has always contributed goals and assists under intense pressure. My mind always casts back to that stunning scissor-kick he scored at Anfield to break Liverpool hearts, but even then, the loveable Spaniard has always been disrespected.
Barring the few months after his immediate arrival, Mata has constantly remained a fringe player. The now 30-year-old has never been a first-team regular under Jose Mourinho. That was the case when Louis van Gaal was in charge also. The question I'd like to ask is why? Particularly when you consider the fact that United's biggest need for years has been someone who can carve out regular, clear-cut opportunities.
So often, Mata found himself stuck out on the right-wing where his overall output and effectiveness diminishes. He has no pace, nor does he track back. All you're doing is harming the team. Yet, time-and-time again, we're treated to flashes of brilliance. Twice this season, the ex-Chelsea man has made an impact off the substitutes bench; saving his manager's bacon in the process. He scored a wonderful free-kick against Newcastle United to spark the comeback. United would go on to win that game 3-2. It was another set-piece from Mata that drew United level in Turin. The Red Devils would go on to claim all three points in that fixture also...
Mata's future at United has often come into question. He's a loyalist, he loves to see a job through till the end, that's probably why he has remained upon Salford Quays. Perhaps we're more alerted to this because he is such a loveable character, but at the end of the day, that's just business.
What has unfolded for him in one red kit has certainly had a negative effect on his appearances (or lack of) in another red jersey. Alright, Spain is a nation stacked with creative quality, but I cannot help but feel that if he and David Silva's career-paths were switched, it'd be Mata who everyone would be swooning over.
Sure, 41 international caps isn't anything to be sniffed at, but his last action for country came over two years ago. He's now approaching his later years, you feel he'll never run out for his country again. He hasn't received a proper send-off, that's a huge shame.
There is still time for Mourinho to do what's right. Either play Mata on a regular basis or let him leave and join a club that'll truly appreciate his talents. Losing his character would be a massive blow to the United dressing room, while the Premier League (if he were to move abroad), would be losing probably the nicest guy in football, but he's at that point in his career where he has to be playing week-in-week-out. There is only so long even the most patient of men can put up with bench-warming, and with the finish line in sight, don't be surprised to see United's #8 push for a move away in January...