Manchester United could take a £13.1 million loss on Juan Mata when the transfer window re-opens in January, with Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Valencia all lining up £24 million bids for the Spanish playmaker.
This is according to the Express, who cite reports in Italy as claiming that Juventus hope to sign Mata on an initial loan deal with the option to complete a permanent transfer next summer.
Mata: Man United flop?
United, then managed by David Moyes, broke their club transfer record fee to sign Mata from Chelsea back in January. The Red Devils paid £37.1 million for the attacking midfielder, who was deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge by Jose Mourinho, even though the player had won Chelsea’s Player of the Year award in both of the previous two seasons.
Speculation is now intensifying that current United boss Louis van Gaal may also opt to offload Mata, with the Spain international in danger of falling down the pecking order at Old Trafford after the international break.
Van Gaal's selection headache
Van Gaal must find a way to accommodate Radamel Falcao, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie into his starting line-up, which could see Mata dropping down to the substitutes’ bench.
Mata has scored seven goals in 18 appearances for the Red Devils, but has struggled to assert his influence in the manner many expected he would on arrival from Chelsea.
In his three competitive performances under Van Gaal this season - against Swansea City, Sunderland and Burnley - Mata has been very disappointing. However, it must be noted that very few of Manchester United’s players have emerged with much credit so far this term.
Van Gaal could use Mata to sign Vidal
Today’s reports add that Van Gaal may attempt to use Mata as a makeweight in a deal to finally sign Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, who was strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford throughout the summer months.
But Juventus could miss out on signing Mata, who will be available to play in both the Champions League or Europa League come January, if they refuse to allow Vidal to move in the opposite direction.
Return to Spain could be more appealing
A move back to La Liga may prove more appealing to Mata, who was recently left out of the Spain squad by Vicente del Bosque for the 1-0 friendly defeat to France and last night’s 5-1 Euro 2016 qualifying victory over Macedonia.
Mata is still regarded as a hero in the eyes of the Valencia fans and a move back to the Mestalla could prove tempting for the 26 - if he spends the majority of his time between now and January on the bench.
But, if he has ambitions of adding to his silverware collection, he could be convinced to sign a deal with La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.
Manchester United fans, however, will be hoping that Van Gaal can find a way to accommodate the gifted Mata into his system - starting on Sunday against Queens Park Rangers.