Manchester United midfielders Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini have reportedly emerged as targets for China's Super League. Both players are said to have been contacted by Super League representatives.
Neil Moxley of the Sunday People (h/t Daily Mirror) reported the interest in Mata, with quite a queue apparently forming for the creative Spanish playmaker. After describing a failed proposed move to La Liga side Atletico Madrid last summer, Moxley detailed current Chinese interest: "But now the People understands at least three clubs from the Chinese Super League have been in contact over a potential deal for the 27-year-old."
Moxley even quoted an unnamed source indicating ex-Valencia and Chelsea star Mata may be open to a move to China: “Juan was happy to return to Spain but now the Chinese have shown their hands, the money is very difficult to turn down.”
Moxley also claimed Mata is "unlikely to be granted an extension" on his current contract with United.
Fellaini is reportedly facing the same situation, according to Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star Sunday:
The Daily Star Sunday understands the Man United midfielder has been sounded out by Chinese agents. Fellaini, 28, was hoping for an Old Trafford contract extension before going to the finals of Euro 2016 this summer with Belgium.
But United have so far given Fellaini – a £27million signing from Everton three years ago – no indication he will be offered another deal.
Letting two midfielders walk would maybe seem like a rash move to some, particularly given United's lack of goal threat in the middle. But there's good reason to suppose neither Mata nor Fellaini will be at Old Trafford next season.
The former is technically gifted but rarely seems to fully deliver on his obvious talent. Mata doesn't always get on the ball as often as he should, and when he does, he can be guilty of not doing enough with it.
He has been in and out of the team this season under manager Louis van Gaal, who has also struggled to find the 27-year-old's best position. Yet, United have a right to expect more than six goals and five assists in all competitions, per WhoScored.com, from a player who cost a reported then-club-record £37.1 million in 2014.
As for Fellaini, he's rarely been popular among the Old Trafford faithful since being David Moyes' big-money buy in the summer of 2013. Often miscast as a supporting forward, Fellaini is instead best as a straightforward central midfielder, a position where his tenacity and underrated ability on the ball can prove useful.
But regardless of position, the former Everton man doesn't always produce maximum effort. He's also still guilty of letting his temper take over during games.
Neither midfielder has really made the grade for the Reds, and there's already been talk they'll be moved on. In fact, Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail recently claimed potential incoming manager Jose Mourinho has asked for the pair to be sold if he succeeds Van Gaal this summer.
Mourinho, who sold Mata to United when he was in charge at Chelsea, has been linked to the Old Trafford job since a BBC Sport article from Dan Roan and Simon Stone said his representatives had held clandestine talks with the Manchester club.
But whether Mourinho is manager next season or not, a United team needing help at every position would be wise to seriously consider any big-money offers for Mata and Fellaini.