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24 Jun 2018

Manchester United: Why a Mata move to Barcelona makes sense for everyone

Manchester United: Why a Mata move to Barcelona makes sense
for everyone

The Spaniard has flown through seven glittering years in England but the time is right for a return home.

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A gradual decline

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Instant Balance 

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 Some retirement home

(Photo credit: Ardfern)

How are we supposed to remember Juan Mata? 

Do we cherish the flying playmaker whose brilliance at Valencia earned a move to Chelsea? 

Or do we celebrate the cerebral prober at Manchester United whose influence at the club waned under the auspices of several defence-minded managers?

It's a choice we might soon have to make, with the Spaniard linked with a shock return home to Barcelona. 

According to Bleacher Report, the 30-year-old is growing closer to the Camp Nou after seven glittering years in England. 

A gradual decline

It's a move that makes sense for all parties. 

Mata has one year left on his current contract, having originally been signed by David Moyes back in 2014. The flagship signing of the dour Scots' reign, he was heralded as "One of the finest playmakers in the game today", a record deal seeing him make the move from London to the Northwest.

His decline has been gradual, but inexorable, ever since. With his age and in his position, the value of any potential move dwindles rapidly.

Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Jose Mourinho could cash in a player whose best years are arguably behind him, freeing up space in the squad for the more robust, dynamic type of player that he is so enamoured by. Links with Lorenzo Pellegrini and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, for example, refuse to go away. 

On the other hand, a move would provide Barcelona with a blue-chip replacement for the departing Andres Iniesta. The likes of Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes have endured anonymous seasons, with the World Cup winner still proving vital. 

Instant Balance 

As for Barcelona, Mata's arrival would give the midfield instant balance whilst providing a partner for Ivan Rakitic that is reliably consistent. 

The Spaniard can usefully deputise across any of the midfield positions and is even capable of doing a job in a more advanced role behind a central striker. 

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Bringing in Mata would also boost the number of options available to Ernesto Valverde. The former Bilbao coach might have enjoyed a tremendous year domestically, but he did so thanks to a squad that was precariously thin. 

What's more, when his side fell apart against Roma in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, he had precious little alternatives to call on from the bench. Mata, whether he starts or not, guarantees quality.

Some retirement home

Mata's age and comparatively reduced role at Manchester United mean that this is a deal which could be completed with a minimum of fuss. 

There is a sense that, whilst Mata is a player of obvious talent, Mourinho's side could absorb his loss without much of a dent in their aspirations. 

Mata's job in England, with two League Cups, an FA Cup, the  Europa League and the Champions League under his belt, feels like it's done. 

Barcelona and the Camp Nou would be some retirement home.

What do you think about Juan Mata at Barcelona? Let us know by commenting below.