We talked today about how did Alexis Sanchez fare at the club since joining this January and now it is Juan Mata’s turn. The Spaniard had a rocky season with some decent performances. He was the player everyone talked about when Jose Mourinho arrived in summer 2016, saying he will be amongst those leaving soon. Yet he has completed his second season under the Portuguese manager in Manchester and could stay for more. Here is how he did.
What Do The Numbers Say?
Juan Mata made 40 appearances in 2017-18 across all competitions. He made 28 appearances (23 starts) in the league, while also adding six of them in the Champions League. His 1933 minutes in Premier League are enough for 21.48 full 90-minute matches. That shows he was one of the players rarely completing the matches he had started and that was not surprising. Mourinho is still not 100 percent sold on Mata and he often takes him out to give a chance to Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford.
Mata scored three goals and made six assists this term, which is not a great nominal outcome. However, that is not surprising, having in mind Mata made only 28 shots in the league – a shot every 69 minutes, which is a really small number – and that could be an indication of what Mourinho asks and what he does not ask of the Spaniard.
A player who is known for his creativity proved that he is doing a good job at it. He maybe had just six assists, but he was creating 2.3 key passes per 90 in Premier League and Champions League. That is a high output, but United did not use that very well, it seems.
Was He An Important Player For The Club?
Not so much. He was more of a squad player who shared a lot of playing time with players in similar situations. Him, Martial and Rashford would often play just parts of those 90 minutes and would rarely stay on throughout the match, which shows lack of belief Mourinho has in them. Sure, there is the talk of rotation and similar things, but if Mourinho was really impressed by one of them, he would have been playing all the time.
Yet this was not a surprise. No one truly expected Mata to be the go to guy this season. He had some decent moments, but was generally far from spectacular.
Projection For The 2018-19 Season
This is a tough one. Mourinho could sell him and open place for someone slightly younger, in his peak years. Mata is already 30 and Mourinho does not have the belief that he is the player that will be crucial for this team. It would not be surprising if he left the club this summer, but my feeling is a little bit different.
I suspect Mata will stay and be more of a squad player. His playing time could be reduced, as Mourinho will want to either give a bigger chance to the players at the club, or someone new will arrive and get that playing time Mata had.