As soon as Jose Mourinho was appointed as Manchester United manager, there were doubts regarding the future of Juan Mata.
The Spaniard was sold by Mourinho during their short time together at Chelsea and many feared that the same could happen at Old Trafford this summer.
The playmaker had won Chelsea’s Player of the Year twice in a row and was a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge before Mourinho turned him from a star player into an outcast at west London, before selling him to United for £37 million in 2014.
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It was believed that Mourinho didn’t believe Mata had the ability to work defensively and preferred Oscar and Willian.
And, after Mourinho’s arrival in Manchester, it seemed as though Mata would be shown the exit door at United - especially after the club confirmed the signing of midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund for a fee in the region of £30 million. Mata was subsequently linked with a move to Everton - and a reunion with his Valencia manager Ronald Koeman - and it appeared his time at the Theatre of Dreams was coming to an end.
However, according to The Sun, Mourinho has told Mata that he does have a future at the club. But that doesn’t mean Mata will be playing regular first-team football. That's because the Portuguese boss has also warned him that he will only play one game in three.
With United competing in the Europa League next season, it’s likely that the Special One is planning on using Mata for that competition with his involvement in the Premier League being limited.
Whether Mata will be satisfied being a bit-part figure playing under a manager that clearly doesn’t rate him remains to be seen. United fans will no doubt want him to stay but he couldn’t be blamed for wanting to leave for first-team football.
Earlier this week, in a short clip filmed by a fan, Mata was asked if he was going to stay at United. He responded by saying: “Don’t believe everything that social media and the media says.”
Mata has scored 26 goals in 104 appearances for the Red Devils so far but knows he will have to compete with the likes of Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, Memphis Depay and Jesse Lingard for a starting position next season.