Atletico Madrid are reportedly eyeing a summer swoop for Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
As per a report from Spanish outlet Sport, Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata could return to his homeland Spain next season, as La Liga giants Atletico Madrid are considering signing him on a free transfer in the summer.
The 30-year-old Mata joined Manchester United from Chelsea in January 2014 and has gone on to make over 200 appearances for the club, scoring 44 goals and setting up 37 more. Mata has won an FA Cup, a League Cup and the UEFA Europa League during his time at Old Trafford.
A firm fan favourite, the Spaniard has seen game time come at a premium this term, more so since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the reins of the club. Mata has just started eight of the 26 games that the Norwegian has been in-charge for and with United looking to add more bodies to their attack, he could be considering his future at the club.
Mata’s contract with the Red Devils will come to an end once the season wraps up. Reports had claimed that the Spanish international was in negotiations over putting pen to a new deal worth £170,000-a-week in wages, but little progress has been achieved on that front.
Moreover, recent reports had claimed that Mata was unhappy with Manchester United for pushing off the contract talks so late, when they were quick to hand out new deals to the likes of Ashley Young and Phil Jones, both of whom were in the final leg of their contracts. This has led him to seriously contemplate an exit when his current deal runs out.
La Liga champions Barcelona had been credited with an interest in Mata and now they seem to have been joined by their domestic rivals Atletico Madrid as well. The next summer will be an important one for Diego Simeone’s side, as a number of key players will be leaving the Wanda Metropolitano.
Diego Godin is reportedly heading to Inter Milan, while Lucas Hernandez has agreed a switch to Bayern Munich, whereas star attacker Antoine Griezmann too could be a subject of another approach from Barcelona, meaning there could be quite a few incomings at the club in the summer.
How Simeone would utilize Mata in the rigid 4-4-2 system that he employs at Atletico Madrid will be interesting to see. But, adding a player of his experience and know-how to the squad at no cost would definitely be a smart move, especially considering that they might have to spend heavily to strengthen in other areas of the pitch.
All in all, it seems all but certain that Mata’s time with Manchester United is drawing to an end. It now remains to be seen where the playmaker ends up next season, with United’s arch-rivals Arsenal also reported to be in the mix.