Manchester United’s club-record signing Juan Mata has been speaking about the possibility of missing out on Spain’s World Cup squad this summer.
The former Chelsea man is in Vicente del Bosque’s provisional squad as the reigning champions warm-up for Brazil, but a quick look at the 30-strong side shows that a number of experienced and quality players will miss out when that is cut to 23.
Mata started Spain’s 2-0 win over Bolivia on Friday before being replaced by Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta, and while the United player knows it will be tough to make the cut, he hopes that is the case.
In an interview published by Football-Espana, Mata said, “The recent months have been good to me and I want more. I don’t know if I’m going but I want to play another World Cup.
“It would be hard to stay out, and not very pleasant. But the final word is Del Bosque’s.”
That it is, but would it be better for United if Mata featured or remained at home? In truth there is an argument for both cases.
After all, if he remained at home he could have a prolonged break before a campaign at Old Trafford that is vital both to him on an individual basis and to incoming manager Louis van Gaal.
And yet, if Mata makes it to the World Cup he has a stage on which to prove to his new manager that he deserves a regular starting-berth at the club he is already being tipped to leave.
In truth I cannot see that happening. But with Robin van Persie set for the main role at United following his international coach’s appointment, and Wayne Rooney tipped to play in behind, Mata will wonder what next season has in store for him.
A good World Cup would prove to van Gaal he cannot be ignored. He could even come face-to-face with his new club manager as early as the opening group-game for Spain.
So as much as a prolonged rest could recharge his batteries, an effective campaign for his homeland could make van Gaal wonder if Mata could perform as effectively with van Persie as Arjen Robben does on the international stage.