Juan Mata was left out of Manchester United’s starting line-up against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
The Spain international midfielder was on target against Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford last weekend, but found himself on the substitutes’ bench for Sunday’s Premier League clash.
The inclusion of star summer signing Radamel Falcao in the line-up meant that one of the attacking players had to be omitted. And that was Mata (click here to read more).
It did not come as a surprise that the 26-year-old was ‘sacrificed’ to make way for United’s star summer signing. However, according to United legend Gary Neville, it could be a sign of things to come for the former Chelsea attacking midfielder.
‘I’m not surprised’, he told Sky Sports. ‘I think he was the easiest one of the three to leave out. He (manager Louis van Gaal) had to get Falcao in to get him games. He needs games.
‘He has done well, Mata, when he has played in central areas and his goal-scoring record is good. But I always wondered whether he is going to fit the bill long term at United.
‘When I watch him at Old Trafford, he isn’t dynamic enough and with Angel Di Maria in the team, they have to get Radamel Falcao in’.
Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy is of a similar opinion and told BBC Sport: ‘Manchester United won 4-0 against QPR, they played really well and Juan Mata scored. What more can he do?
‘The problem for Man Utd this season will be leaving big names out. Without Champions League football, will Louis van Gaal be able to keep those players happy?’
As things are going at the moment, Mata will indeed find it hard to play regularly for United. With no European football, manager Louis van Gaal will not have too many games for players who are not regular in his starting line-up.
Of course, if a player loses his form or suffers injuries, then Mata could get his chance. But will the former Valencia star be able to make an impact then? It is not easy for someone to be out of the team and then come into it with a bang.
One has to feel for Mata, who when fit and on form, is one of the best attacking players in the world.