Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata linked with shock move to Barcelona 3 years ago

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata linked with shock move to Barcelona

Completely out of left field.

This summer was expected to be a busy one for Manchester United. Determined to challenge Manchester City's Premier League supremacy, Jose Mourinho has already made a couple of eye-catching additions to his squad in the shape of Brazilian midfielder Fred and young Portuguese right-back Diogo Dalot.

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Inevitably, there will have to be departures to make room for the new arrivals. Marouane Fellaini is widely tipped to leave while there have been reports that Mourinho will not stand in the way of Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo moving on.

Anthony Martial's future is also uncertain having been left out of France's World Cup squad after falling down the pecking order at United.

One player who was expected to stay put, however, was Juan Mata, which is why reports linking the Spaniard with a move to Barcelona are peculiar.

The 30-year-old playmaker has always seemed content and settled at United since joining from Chelsea in January 2014. Although he is no longer a guaranteed starter under Mourinho, Mata is a hugely popular figure, particularly among fans.

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However, Dean Jones, who specialises in transfer reporting for Bleacher Report, claims that 'progress has been made' on a potential deal that would see Mata join the Catalan giants.

It's surprising for a number of reasons. First, Barcelona already have a wealth of creative talent at the Camp Nou, with Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele and, of course, Lionel Messi supplying the main striker Luis Suarez.

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Secondly, if Barcelona were to target a United player, one would assume it would have been Martial. The Frenchman, 22, has his whole career ahead of him and has the potential to become world-class.

However, perhaps the La Liga champions are attracted to what would presumably be a cut-price deal for Mata.

It seems unlikely but stranger things have certainly happened in previous transfer windows. With Mourinho unable to offer Mata regular starting football, an offer to join Barca would perhaps be very attractive.

We'll have to wait and see how this one plays out.

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