Manchester United Transfer News: Latest on Joao Mario and Juan Mata Swap Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2017

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Juan Mata of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Manchester United and CSKA Moskva at Old Trafford on December 5, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)
James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United are reportedly set to offer Juan Mata to Inter Milan as part of a potential deal that would see Joao Mario head in the opposite direction. 

According to Corriere dello Sport (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express), the Red Devils have switched their attention from Inter winger Ivan Perisic and will instead pursue a deal for the Portuguese playmaker.

It's reported the Red Devils are keen to bolster their midfield options, with Marouane Fellaini's contract set to run out at the end of the season. Even so, they are ready to offer Mata as part of a package for Mario.

NAPLES, ITALY - OCTOBER 21:  Joao Mario of FC Internazionale in action during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and FC Internazionale at Stadio San Paolo on October 21, 2017 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

The Inter man has failed to show his best form since joining the club last summer. While Inter are top of the Serie A table this term, he's only started four games in the top flight.

WhoScored.com's Cristiano Acconci believes the former Sporting CP man has a lot to offer at the San Siro, but he needs to improve his application:

Mario showcased plenty of ability during his stint in Lisbon to suggest he could become one of the most effective creative midfielders in Europe.

Whether utilised on either flank, as a No. 10 or occasionally in a deeper role, Mario always looks to be positive in possession. His control in tight areas, dribbling skill and passing ability makes him so difficult to pin down. If the Milan side can find a way of getting him into the current setup more regularly, he'd potentially push them to another level.

As noted by Portuguese football journalist Marino Peixoto, he played well in the 5-0 win over Chievo on Sunday:

Interest from United would be understandable, although if the club were to put Mata up as part of any deal it would split opinions.

The Spain international may not be the first name on Jose Mourinho's teamsheet, but he's become one of the most popular members of the United side since arriving at Old Trafford in 2014. Additionally, his technique, creativity and penchant for chipping in with crucial goals has made him a valuable asset.

Mata has become a fan favourite at United.
Mata has become a fan favourite at United.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The 29-year-old hasn't found top gear this season, although whenever he is on the pitch there are moments of class that shine through, as noted by Agence France-Presse's Tom Williams:

At the moment, the players trading places would be a fascinating concept. Arguably, the more combative style of Mario would be a better fit for the Premier League, whereas Mata's guile and flair would make him a big hit in Serie A, where the slower pace of the game would allow him to have a bigger influence.

Still, swap deals are rare in the modern game, and if deals were to be done for either player, you sense they'd be independent of one another. At moment, both players will surely feels as though they still have something to offer their respective sides over the course of a long campaign.