Manchester United Transfer News: Juan Mata to Atletico Madrid Rumours Grow

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2016

DERBY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  Juan Mata of Manchester United celebrates as he scores their third goal during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium on January 29, 2016 in Derby, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid will reportedly try to sign Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata during the summer, according to the latest rumours.

Fichajes.net (h/t Goal's Tom Maston) claim Atletico manager Diego Simeone is “confident” he can make a deal for the Spain international, with rumours he may be on his way out of Old Trafford increasing drastically in the last week.

The Daily Mail's Neil Ashton previously reported former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho would look to sell him should he take the job at the Theatre of Dreams, having sold him once before.

The 27-year-old moved to United in January of 2014 after a very successful spell with Chelsea, and he has since become United's main creative force, per Squawka Football:

But while Mata has continued to produce, most of his team-mates have not. Silverware has been hard to come by at Old Trafford since the departure of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and major changes are expected next summer.

Those changes will begin at the top with a new manager, but said manager will look to make the squad his own. A player like Mata, who has the ability to anchor the attack in a less advanced position and can still play at the highest level for years, has plenty of value on the open market.

Atletico may not be looking to spend north of £30 million on Mata, although Simeone might be willing to break open his checkbook to land a top creator who can play all over the attack, out wide and in midfield. Per WhoScored.com, Mata remains a special player:

A return to his native Spain might sound appealing to Mata as well, especially after his spell at Old Trafford. United have been dysfunctional at best in the last two seasons, and Mata has experienced how blunt the British press can be during that spell.

Plenty of pundits have taken aim at him at certain times, including Mark Ogden of the Daily Telegraph: “The club record signing of Juan Mata in January appeared a coup, but the Spanish playmaker has done little to suggest he can become a central figure at Old Trafford.”

Atletico have emerged as Spain's third top team in recent years, building a talented, young squad through making smart signings. The Rojiblanco look as if they'll challenge for the La Liga title on a yearly basis for the foreseeable future and would present an interesting transfer destination for anyone.

The squad is filled with promising players, but Simeone could use another creative boost in midfield. Youngster Oliver Torres isn't ready to be the main creator on a weekly basis, and the likes of Saul Niguez and Tiago are better suited to more defensive roles.

Mata would fill a clear need for Atletico, and he would be the kind of big-name target the club should land next summer to emphasise the fact they are now a force to be reckoned with.

Whether it happens or not will likely depend on whoever replaces Louis van Gaal as United boss. If it's Mourinho, Mata may even ask for the move himself―Titanbet doesn't think he'll be happy:

For the right fee, United should consider letting go of Mata. The Spaniard is a great player, but things haven't fully worked out at Old Trafford, and with the club set for a fresh start, the midfielder should do the same.