Spanish newspaper AS carry a surprise report on Wednesday morning, claiming that Leeds are in talks to sign Juan Mata. The Spaniard is a free agent after he was released by Manchester United earlier this summer.
Mata, now 34, spent eight years at rivals Manchester United after joining the club from Chelsea. He was regarded as one of the Premier League’s best playmakers during his prime, ending his spell at Old Trafford with 285 games.
In that time, he had a hand in 98 goals – scoring 51 and creating 47. It is unclear where his next move is, but the story says Victor Orta is now in talks to land the 41-time Spain international. A player, Dan James loves.
Indeed, Wales star James once branded Mata as an “idol” of his. Whether there is any truth to the report that Leeds could sign Mata, James would certainly love to reunite with his old Manchester United teammate.
Leeds in talks to sign Juan Mata
So, could Leeds sign Mata? The playmaker is likely to feel he can still do it in the Premier League – if given regular game time. He only got 12 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United during the 2021-22 season.
The way Jesse Marsch likes to play, especially in a 4-2-3-1 system, may require a playmaker to knit everything together. But the disadvantages of such a move is firstly, his enormous wages. He was earning £160,000 a week at United.
Mata has been around the block and at 34 he is certainly slowing down. He might only have a year or two left at the top level, and even within that, his performance will decline. Can he keep up with the Leeds tempo? Who knows.