Manchester United are developing a £140,000-a-week problem by leaving Juan Mata out of their Premier League starting XIs, according to former Liverpool star Danny Murphy.
Speaking in his capacity as a Premier League pundit for the BBC, Murphy warned Louis van Gaal that leaving the Spaniard out of the starting line-up for the disastrous defeat at Leicester City could develop further problems for the Manchester United manager.
Mata was praised for his role in the 4-0 win over QPR last weekend, where he scored a well-taken goal, and Murphy feels his subsequent dropping for the next match sends a bad message to the Old Trafford dressing room.
Not only will the £37million January signing be upset at his treatment, but other fringe players may become worried by Van Gaal’s treatment of him, especially when no European football means limited playing chances.
“Manchester United won 4-0 against QPR, they played really well and Juan Mata scored. What more can he do he?" he said.
"The problem for Man Utd this season will be leaving big names out. Without Champions League football, will Louis van Gaal be able to keep those players happy?
"Because it does not matter how much money you earn, if you are not playing you are unhappy. And those players could become a negative influence on the team."
It has been a difficult enough start to the season for Van Gaal without any serious squad unrest, so the prospect of discontent in the Manchester United ranks is about the last thing he needs.
The former Netherlands boss watched on in horror as his side followed up that relieving 4-0 defeat of QPR in their previous Premier League fixture with a 5-3 defeat away at newly-promoted Leicester City.
What made things worse at the King Power Stadium was that the Red Devils were 3-1 up after an hour and looked liked they would cruise to victory. A series of poor decisions by referee Mark Clattenburg resulted in the home side winning two penalties.
Despite the substandard officiating, it was a spirited comeback from Nigel Adkins’ side, while Van Gaal should be extremely concerned at the way his team wilted in the face of severe from pressure from a reenergised opponent and baying crowd.
Manchester United spent the best part of £150millon this summer to bring in Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo.
All of whom put space in the starting XI at a premium and so far it has appeared that Mata will be one of those in the attacking department to miss out at the expense of the new superstars.
If he continues to be left out of the side, it will cap a miserable season and a half for the Spain international, who was marginalised at Chelsea following the arrival of Jose Mourinho and was sold to Manchester United for a club record fee.
Mata reportedly doubled his wages to £140,000 per week with the move to Old Trafford but arrived at a club in crisis and saw the manager who signed him, David Moyes, sacked only a couple of months later.