Inter Milan Reportedly Offered Juan Mata by Manchester United in Latest Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2018

MUNICH, GERMANY - AUGUST 05: Juan Mata of Manchester United reacts during the friendly match between Bayern Muenchen and Manchester United at Allianz Arena on August 5, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)
Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Manchester United have reportedly offered Inter Milan the chance to sign their midfielder Juan Mata

According to Gianluca Di Marzio of Sky Sport Italia, while the Serie A giants remain intent on signing Luka Modric from Real Madrid, they are also keen on adding another attacker and they have been given an opportunity to sign Mata.

However, according to the report Inter are likely to go down a different route, as they seek to bring Monaco's Keita Balde Diao back to the Italian top flight.

"The most concrete contacts have been about Keita Balde, a player they pursued while he was at Lazio," said Di Marzio. "[Antonio] Candreva could be included in a deal with Monaco involving a loan swap, but all the parties involved have yet to give the green light for the completion."

HAMBURG, GERMANY - JULY 28: Keita Balde of AS Monaco and Douglas Santos of Hamburg battle for the ball during the Friendly match between Hamburger SV and AS Monaco at Volksparkstadion on July 28, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Mata has been a United player for the previous three-and-a-half years, having arrived at Old Trafford as a marquee acquisition in January 2014.

In the main, he's been a fine player for the Red Devils, winning the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Europa League. Prior to that, he had an excellent spell with Chelsea, with the high point the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League win.

While Mata was once a creative force, at 30 years old he hasn't sparkled quite as brightly in the last couple of campaigns. However, as noted by Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News, there have been some positive signs from the Spain international in pre-season:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

HT. #mufc clinical in attack but shaky in defence again. Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata developing an encouraging telepathy. Ander Herrera particularly proactive.

Arguably it would make sense if Mata did make a move this summer, though, as he's never appeared to be a natural fit for the blueprint of manager Jose Mourinho.

The former Chelsea playmaker is a footballer who relishes freedom on the field, whether that be roaming from a central position or drifting infield from a spot out wide. Mourinho has rarely afforded any of his players that luxury, with cohesion so often the order of the day for the Portuguese.

Given Mata is no longer as dynamic or energetic as he once was, that freedom will be crucial if he's going to continue to be effective in the twilight years of his career. And in a division like Serie A, where the speed of the game is a little slower, he could still potentially flourish.

Even so, the statistics indicate that last year the Red Devils did perform to a higher standard with the calming influence of the Spaniard in the team:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Manchester United have won 16 and lost just one of the 20 Premier League matches that Juan Mata has started this season, winning just five of the 11 matches that he hasn’t. Will Mourinho regret dropping the Spaniard? Full #MCIMUN team news -- https://t.co/NrVK96CBYO https://t.co/FYXXdWJwnR

It's unlikely Mata will be a key man this season, though, as Mourinho appears set to turn to a 4-3-3 setup following the signing of Brazilian midfielder Fred. As such, there's no natural spot for Mata in the side as a No. 10; while he can play out wide, he's no longer as effective on the flank.

The midfielder is a popular man at Old Trafford and has given supporters many highlights down the years. However, the time may be right for the two to go their separate ways, especially if Mata wants to continue being a vital member of an XI every week.