Catalan giants want United’s £37m man…
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In what would be one of the most surprising and unexpected transfers of this summer’s window, La Liga giants Barcelona are eyeing up a move for Manchester United’s Spanish playmaker Juan Mata, reports Spanish daily AS.
The 26-year-old only moved to Manchester in January, with Chelsea agreeing to sell him to their Premier League rivals for the pricey sum of £37m.
Despite starting slowly, Mata eventually began to find the form that saw him rated as arguably the league’s finest playmaker while at Stamford Bridge, scoring six Premier League goals and registering four assists for United in 14 starts.
With Barcelona keen for a squad overhaul following their trophyless season, new boss Luis Enrique has earmarked Mata on his shortlist of potential summer recruits.
Barcelona’s sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta tried to lure Mata to the Nou Camp in 2010, and although the playmaker preferred to test his mettle on English shores, the former Spain goalkeeper has kept a close eye on his progress ever since.
Mata could be targeted as a direct replacement for Cesc Fabregas, who is a big £35m target for both Arsenal and Manchester United. Although he was used as traditional central midfielder during his stint in England, Fabregas plays in a more advanced role for Barcelona, meaning Mata could be a like-for-like replacement.
Mata, who has been selected as part of Spain’s World Cup squad, prides himself on his close control, and his ability to create something out of nothing. Not only can he score goals, but he can rack up assists too thanks to his exemplary vision.
However, the chances of United letting Mata go are extremely slim. They moved heaven and earth to bring him from West London just four months ago, and even for a large fee, would be loathe to lose one of the country’s most talented players.