If Manchester United have to choose between Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, then they should opt for the latter.

Juan Mata joined Manchester United from Chelsea only in January, but there are already talks that he could be sold this summer.

Barcelona are reportedly interested in the Spain international and are ready to pay as much as £40 million for his services. It has been claimed that newly appointed United manager Louis van Gaal wants to play with one main striker and a playmaker behind him.

With Robin van Persie set to be the centre-forward, Rooney will drop behind him, meaning that Mata – who is at his best in that role – will be sacrificed and sold.

But should be? If I were to choose between Rooney and Mata, I would certainly opt for the latter. If one of them has to be let go, then it should be the England international, not the former Valencia star.

Firstly, Rooney is 28 while Mata is 26. Secondly, the former Everton forward is a divisive figure. He is more likely to spit his dummy out and hold the club to ransom again. Thirdly, his ridiculously huge salary could be split between two or even three new players.

Many people claim that Rooney contributes more to the team, but does he? Yes, he runs around a lot and scores goals, but he would be less likely to score as many playing in a midfield role behind Van Persie.

Mata is a smarter and more intelligent player, and doesn’t have to run around a lot. Like most great players, he can make the ball do the work. Playing behind Van Persie would not be asking him to change position; it would be playing him in his favoured position. Moreover, Mata is easy-going and is very unlikely to cause any problems at the club.

Over the years, Rooney has demanded a lot from United and has often created controversies. On the other hand, Mata just wants to play football without making any fuss.

In other news, Report: Liverpool star Luis Diaz dreams of leaving to join Champions League giants