As new arrivals roll into Old Trafford as the Jose Mourinho revolution begins, one man rumoured to be heading the other way is popular midfielder Juan Mata, with Merseyside giants Everton the front-runners to snap up the Red Devils man.
Here’s why Ronald Koeman should get his credit card out to sign the World Cup-winning midfield maestro.
Mata is a hugely effective player
After Man United’s lowest-scoring league campaign in over 25 years, it would be easy to simply write off their midfield as having failed, but that would do a huge disservice to their one bright spark in the centre of the park.
He was comfortably the club’s highest assist provider, setting up 11 goals in all competitions last season, as well as netting 10 times – making him the third-highest scorer at the club, and ensuring back-to-back seasons of reaching double figures in the goalscoring charts from midfield.
And if there’s any doubt about how highly boss Louis van Gaal rated his importance, Mata played more minutes last season than any other United midfielder.
He fits with Koeman’s style of football
Confident on the ball, attack-minded and possessing an incredible range of passing, Mata is not only a hugely talented player, but fits the footballing philosophy which Koeman has always followed – continuing to hone it at Feyenoord and most recently, Southampton.
Koeman’s sides have always been attacking and exciting, but have also mixed classy, tidy, attack-minded players with more physical personnel. And he already has the latter at Goodison Park, in the form of Arouna Kone, Oumar Niasse – and for now – Romelu Lukaku.
Who better to provide that counterpoint than one of the league’s most talented distributors of the ball? And another 10-goal haul would also come in handy if he can replicate that.
He has experience of winning major honours
With a new boss and a financial boost following businessman Farhad Moshiri’s involvement in the club, there will be plenty of expectation on this side of Stanley Park as the Toffees look to lift a first major trophy since their 1995 FA Cup triumph.
One crucial factor for a return to winning ways would surely be having players with the experience of past success, and Mata certainly ticks the box on that front. The 28-year-old has lifted the World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and Copa Del Rey.
That experience could be invaluable to key players who haven’t featured in a major cup final or title race – the likes of Ross Barkley, John Stones and Muhamed Besic. For all those reasons, this seems like a perfect fit for both club and player.
Could we again see an underdog become champions of England? And could a certain Mr Mata add another medal with a fourth different club to his glittering collection?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.