To sign a player for £37 million and to play him out of position seems somewhat bizarre, would have Manchester United been better off looking elsewhere?
Apart from his impressive debut at home to Cardiff where he slotted just behind Robin Van Persie in a 2-0 win, he has been used mainly from wide positions.
In Mata's heat maps of his first four games, you will see a lot of action predominantly from wide areas and not a lot in positions where he is widely-renowned to be at his best.
Heatmap for Mata MUFC v Stoke: which position do we call this? Answer: the wrong one pic.twitter.com/ZNneppPzoW— Rob B. (@_Rob_B) February 11, 2014
For those tweeting me that Mata didn’t play wide right against Fulham, is this heatmap wrong then? pic.twitter.com/7doAxodExJ— Rob B. (@_Rob_B) February 11, 2014
Juan Mata heat map tonight, makes me sad. pic.twitter.com/KUqhctIyXz— MUFC20 (@MUFC201103) February 12, 2014
In the game against Cardiff, you can see that his heat map is more evenly distributed across the pitch and despite still being used heavily on the wider regions of the pitch, he was able to directly manipulate the shape of each United attack that game with his quality.
Since then, he has been used in wider positions and you can see in all three of the corresponding images where he has been played more out wide, his impact has been limited, especially against Arsenal where he was pinned back into his own half.
Juan Mata is a fantastic footballer and one of the better players in the Premier League without question.
But, it seems like the player Moyes had in mind was one that plays a completely different role to Mata and unless a new position can be worked out with Rooney, or a new system altogether, it seems like he could be out there for the near future at Old Trafford.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald