Manchester United’s first involvement in Euro 2016 came in the form of French forward Anthony Martial, who made a substitute appearance in the hosts’ 2-1 win over Romania on Friday night.
In total, the FA Cup holders have 10 players at the tournament, from Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who are captaining their respective countries, to promising youngsters Paddy McNair and Marcus Rashford.
However, there are two fairly high-profile United stars who won’t be involved in France this summer, and one of them in particular most definitely deserves to be.
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Juan Mata was extremely unfortunate not to be included in the Spanish Euro 2016 squad and it remains to be seen whether the 28-year-old has a future on the international stage. Not only did the United playmaker score in the 2012 Final but he also played multiple times during Spain’s qualification for this year’s tournament.
Mata’s claims are also strengthened by the fact that he was the primary source of creativity this season for a Man United side which often struggled to create chances and score goals. The classy Spaniard made over 50 appearances, providing eight assists and scoring ten goals, including the crucial equaliser against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup Final last month.
With the international retirements in recent years of legends such as Xavi and Xabi Alonso, the defending champions would have benefitted from Mata’s experience, given their disastrous defence of the World Cup two years ago. The attacking midfielder has represented his country 40 times across seven years.
Mata deserved to go to Euro 2016 but he wasn’t the only big name to miss out for Spain. The likes of Diego Costa, Santi Cazorla and Saul Niguez were also not selected by manager Vicente del Bosque. The tournament would have been a great opportunity for Mata to impress new Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho, who sold him to the club from Chelsea in 2014.
Having broken into Man United’s first-team back in 2013, Adnan Januzaj forced his way into Belgium’s 2014 World Cup squad after lighting up Old Trafford with some skilful and entertaining individual displays.
However, the 21-year-old starlet endured a bitterly disappointing time under Louis van Gaal and his career has stagnated to a certain extent. Januzaj failed to score or assist a single goal in the entire 2014-15 campaign, and at the start of this season he was loaned out to Borussia Dortmund only to be recalled in January due to a lack of playing time.
It was always going to be hard for Januzaj, who can play as a winger or in central attacking roles, to get back into contention with Belgium. They are currently blessed with several attacking options, from Champions League Final goalscorer Yannick Carrasco and Napoli winger Dries Mertens to Premier League stars Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard.
As the youngster is low on confidence and played so little football over the past few months, unfortunately for him, he didn’t warrant a place in Marc Wilmots’ squad. It is believed that Mourinho is an admirer of Januzaj, so hopefully the “Special One” will give him a chance to prove just how talented he really is and he’ll be able to recapture his very best form as he looks to relaunch his Manchester United career.
Do Mata and Januzaj have futures at Man Utd under Mourinho? Share YOUR thoughts in the comments box below!