Manchester United's pursuit of Schalke 04 playmaker Julian Draxler could well mean former club-record signing Juan Mata's day at Old Trafford are numbered.
Draxler has been persistently linked with Arsenal over the last 18 months after a string of hugely encouraging performances for Schalke, which proved enough to earn the 21-year-old a cameo role for Germany at the World Cup.
Arsenal ultimately decided against activating the exciting playmaker's release clause but United are seriously considering it, a move which the Daily Star believes puts Mata's already precarious position as a key man for United under serious threat.
Mata running out of time
There's no question that Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal has a plethora of attacking midfield options, with Mata fighting for a starting spot alongside the likes of Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney and Angel di Maria.
Mata has started six of United's first eight Premier League games this season, but in truth the £140,000-a-week midfielder has not shown anything like the form that made him such a fan favourite at Chelsea and for that reason Van Gaal looks to be ready to splash the cash again on a young alternative.
- Louis van Gaal instructs scouts to monitor Draxler
- Arsenal would like Draxler to replace Ozil
- Draxler reveals he wanted Arsenal move
Is Draxler an improvement on the Spaniard?
Van Gaal has now sent scouts to watch Draxler on more than one occasion this season, a player with immense potential and versatility to operate effectively in wide areas that Mata in particular perhaps lacks.
Draxler primarily operates on the left-wing, but can come inside and has even been compared to a young Robin van Persie thanks to his outstanding technical qualities and ability to make a difference in the final third.
The starlet's contract doesn't expire until 2018 but that hasn't stopped a whole host of Europe's top clubs from actively courting one of the Bundesliga's most impressive youngsters, including Manchester City and Real Madrid.
Red Devils plan to keep on spending
United are new to the race but Draxler definitely fits the mould of a Van Gaal player, a raw talent capable of making huge strides at the highest level under the experienced Dutch tactician's guidance.
The Red Devils have proven they'll spend big on the targets Van Gaal identifies, but for Draxler to come in there'll surely have to be a high-profile departure and unfortunately for the likeable and hard-working Mata it may well be time to move on sooner rather than later.
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