Manchester United Transfer News: Why Red Devils Can't Afford to Lose Juan Mata

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2014

Manchester United's Juan Mata celebrates his goal against Southampton during their English Premier League soccer match at St Mary's stadium, Southampton, England, Sunday, May 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

Big changes could be imminent for Manchester United during the summer, but David de Gea wants Juan Mata to stay at the club, and the Spanish midfielder should not be leaving Old Trafford during the upcoming transfer window.

De Gea believes his compatriot made the team much stronger after joining from Chelsea last season, as he told Movistar, via Sky Sports:

"I would not sell Juan Mata. He is a very important player for us.

We have taken a qualitative leap with him and he has adapted very well."

Mata was United's big-name signing in January, but the Spanish midfielder couldn't help the team's downward spiral, which ended with the club failing to qualify for European football for the first time in 25 years.

The player himself was hardly at fault, however, as he provided the Mancunians with a calming presence in the centre of the pitch, something they lacked at times prior to the winter transfer window.

Midfield is seen as the biggest area that needs reinforcing going into the summer, but the Red Devils are in need of an enforcer first and creativity second.

With Wayne Rooney growing into his role as creative outlet in the centre, a partnership with Mata could be successful provided the duo receive enough support from the pieces around them.

Adnan Januzaj is seen as the future on the wing for United, and incoming manager Louis van Gaal has a reputation for launching the careers of young, talented players.

Jon Super/Associated Press

That leaves the other wing and the spots behind Mata and Rooney as the main concerns, and this is where the club should focus its attention.

The emergence of the 4-3-3, 4-3-2-1 and variants have put a premium on quick wingers with the athletic ability to track back defensively and the technical requirements to cut inside and create chances for themselves.

These kinds of players aren't easy to come by, and prices on the open market are currently through the roof. The 2014 World Cup certainly won't help matters, as it will only give players the opportunity to put their talents on display, driving the prices up even more.

Manchester Evening News' David Lynch recently conducted a poll amongst fans, asking them for their preferred starting XI for the coming season. The results?

Reds hope to see Mats Hummels and Luke Shaw, who have again been linked with moves on Sunday, brought in to bolster the back four.

Juan Mata is the only man to survive the inevitable midfield overhaul, being joined in a three by Kevin Strootman of Roma and Atletico Madrid star Koke.

But there is no room for Rooney in the Dutch-style formation Van Gaal is likely to prefer.

Robin van Persie leads the line as a result, and United supporters are keen for Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund and Adnan Januzaj to join him. is a great resource for players' perceived transfer values. Mats Hummels and Luke Shaw have a combined value of roughly £34 million, and as both are young options on good contracts, the actual price would probably be closer to £60 million (at least).

Koke and Kevin Strootman? Valued at £45 million. And Marco Reus? A whopping £35 million.

Van Gaal could look at those numbers and decide added funds would be needed to build his perfect team, and from that perspective, a sale of Mata could make sense.

The Spanish international will probably feature for the reigning world champions during this summer's World Cup and would be a valuable asset for just about any team in world football, so chances are teams would be interested in his services.

But how do you replace Mata moving forward? The 26-year-old is just hitting his prime years and could potentially be an anchor for United's midfield for the next half-decade.

You don't just find players like that on the open market, and if you do, they won't come cheap.

Mata has spent just six months at Old Trafford and adapted to his surroundings just fine. While his first season with the club didn't always go smoothly, the circumstances under David Moyes made it almost impossible for anyone to impress.

The fans don't want to see him leave, according to the poll, and Van Gaal has been in the business long enough to recognise a special talent when he sees it.

De Gea can rest assured—as of right now, his compatriot is going nowhere.



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