Juan Mata Focused on Barcelona UCL Clash, Not New Manchester United Contract

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 30: Juan Mata of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Watford FC at Old Trafford on March 30, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)
James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has dismissed questions about a possible new contract at the club, insisting he is focused on the team's upcoming clash with Barcelona. 

Mata joined the Red Devils in January 2014, and his contract with United is set to expire at the end of the season. The lack of an extension has triggered speculation about his long-term future at Old Trafford.

When asked about his plans beyond this campaign, the Spaniard said he's not thinking about his own situation for the time being, per Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News:

"I don't think right now is a good moment to speak about it. Because I prefer to put the team before myself and what we are going to face now is important enough to be focused only on that.

"There have been some rumours about myself and other team-mates over the last week, so I'm not the one who is going to put more questions or raise more comments with what I say. 

"So I prefer to put the team before me and focus on the important task that we have ahead, which is Barcelona. And that's it. I'm sure the fans prefer that because we all want to beat Barcelona, we want to have our heads focused on Barcelona."

In the same interview, Mata commented on how important it is to have an iconic figure like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managing the team:

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Mata is not the only player to be out of contract at Old Trafford this summer, as his team-mate Ander Herrera has also yet to extend his terms.

According to Luckhurst, Mata wants a two-year deal from United. The Red Devils are said to be keen to keep him, although the length of contract the 30-year-old wants is an issue; there are reportedly clubs from the Premier League and La Liga interested in signing him on a free transfer.

Simon Peach of the Press Association said the decisions of Mata and Herrera will go a long way to shaping the team's summer business:

While Mata may be past his peak, he's not someone who lets the team down when he gets an opportunity.

What he lacks in speed and strength he makes up for with his quick feet, technical ability and intelligence on the ball. As things stand, he remains one of the most creative players in the United first team.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola recently praised the former Chelsea and Valencia man:

With Solskjaer in charge and clearly keen to give younger players a chance at Old Trafford, you sense a lot of the decisions made by the club in the coming weeks will be with the long-term in mind.

Mata may not be part of those plans, but he's still capable of performing in the Premier League and a great option for the manager to call on. Given his talent and popularity, plenty of United fans will be disappointed if he does depart.