Manchester United boasts one of the strongest attacks in Europe after their haul in the summer transfer window that brought in, on the attack, Ander Herrara, Angel Di Maria, and Radamel Falcao. Add that to the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, and Juan Mata, and you have a world-class strike force to go along with a solid midfield. Somebody, though, had to be dropped in order to make room for the influx of talent. Since Wayne Rooney earned the captaincy for the Red Devils from Louis Van Gaal, it gave him “special privileges”and made him “virtually undroppable”. So instead of dropping Falcao or Van Persie, Van Gaal decided to move Rooney back into an attacking midfield position in his diamond formation. Juan Mata was the odd man out.
Mata has yet to comment on how he feels about the situation, but one can assume based on all of the transfer rumours surrounding the Spaniard, that at some point he will become unhappy. Especially if things were to continue the way they did against West Ham United. A match in which Mata was not even substituted. That does not seem to be the case, though, as Rooney drew a red card in the West Ham match for kicking out at Stewart Downing. That means that he will be suspended for the next three United matches against Everton, West Bromwich Albion, and Chelsea.
Van Gaal would be hard pressed not to place Mata in Rooney’s position during those three matches, and although Mata has fallen out of favour with the Dutch manager, he will get another chance to prove his worth to the club. Before being dropped, Mata had scored 8 goals in his last 10 Premier League matches. He is a top-class player and even amidst all of the speculation of his leaving the club, he still wants to be able to thrive in the number 10 spot for Van Gaal.
Mata was purchased by Manchester United in the January transfer window from Chelsea for £37 million. His transfer from Chelsea was due to nearly the same situation that he faces at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho was trying to build his team around Oscar playing in the 10 spot which subjected Mata to the bench.
If Mata does exceed expectations, and has a few world-class matches during Rooney’s suspension, it will be a difficult decision for Van Gaal to make on who stays in the Starting XI. Van Gaal may even switch his formation in the coming three matches in order to figure out the best fit for all of the players.
Regarding the transfer rumours that are coming in, Valencia, Mata’s old club, has reportedly shown interest, and is willing to make a bid of £30 million for him.
Mata is a top-class performer, and the Rooney suspension may just give him the opportunity to prove it, and earn his spot in the Starting XI.