Erik ten Hag’s first summer at Manchester United has seen half a dozen players leave the club on free transfers and Juan Mata, who spent eight years at Old Trafford, was one of the casualties.
The Spaniard ended the season in strong form but was always expected to leave the club after struggling to break into the side under Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
With the new Premier League season kicking off in just three weeks, Mata is yet to sign for a new club but there are now reports of the 34-year-old potentially returning to England after his holiday.
According to Spanish publication AS, Mata is in talks with Leeds over joining the club on a free transfer. As per the report, offers are scarce for Mata and the proposal from Leeds is the only formal bid on the table.
Negotiations between Leeds and Mata’s representatives are, however, said to be slow and an agreement is not thought to be imminent.
The report goes on to add that although talks are described as ‘slow’, there is a willingness from all parties to get a deal over the line before the end of the window.
Mata is one of those players who you’d struggle to shine a bad light on. He was a model professional for over eight years and on the pitch, he oozed class.
His standards dropped in the last two or three years but that was always expected. The thought of seeing Mata represent Leeds is, however, unsettling.
Since Leeds were promoted to the Premier League in 2020, United have flourished against them and at present, they don’t pose a threat to United’s ambitions. But the rivalry between the two sides remains.