Ralf Rangnick’s era as Manchester United interim boss has got off to a near-perfect start so far.
A debut win against Crystal Palace, a draw with Young Boys, and a win over Norwich last time out means Rangnick is still unbeaten in his tenure.
And after United’s recent game against Brighton on Saturday was postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak, the Red Devils have only Newcastle and Burnley to play before the international break.
January will provide Rangnick with his first opportunity to alter his squad in the transfer market. And with several stars linked with moves to and from Old Trafford, it could be an active one for the German boss.
One player who looks as if he could be on his way out of the club is Juan Mata, the 33-year-old midfielder who has quite a remarkable fall from grace in recent years.
Despite starting just six times in the league last season under former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Mata was strangely given a contract extension.
Mata signed a new one-year deal at the club last summer but has gone on to make just three appearances in the current campaign – none of which have been in the Premier League.
It wasn’t too many years ago that the Spaniard was a regular starter for United. But all that’s changed now.
The midfielder’s performances dropped off, while United’s vast array of attacking talent has pushed the 33-year-old further and further down the pecking order.
But Mata could be set to be offered a way out of the club in a desperate attempt to revive his career.
According to the Daily Star, Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing the midfielder on a free.
The same report states the Catalan giants would be unable to afford both Mata’s £130,000 a week wages, as well as any transfer fee for the player, meaning they would require United to cancel the player’s contract in January.
However, whether United would be willing to do such a thing or not is a different story.
Of course, both Barcelona and Mata have the option of holding out until the summer when Mata would be available for a free.
But moving the player on seems the most logical option for both Rangnick and Mata now.
The Spaniard is unlikely to ever be given the chance to properly revive his United career, while his best days as a Premier League player look well behind him. And at 33, it’s unlikely they’ll ever return.
Next up for Rangnick’s United is a trip to St. James Park to face Newcastle in the Premier League on December 27.
The Red Devils are currently sixth in the league with 27 points from 16 games and are five adrift of the Champions League places.