Rochdale have announced the capture of former Manchester United scholar Japhet Mata, who joins the League One club's academy as a first year scholar.
The 16-year-old forward had been on trial at Spotland earlier this year, and has impressed scouts enough to earn himself a youth contract, according to the club's official website.
Mata had been with the Red Devils since 2012 but formally left Old Trafford during the summer, following the appointment of Louis van Gaal.
Not that Mata...
A versatile wide-man capable of operating either at left-back or in a more advanced midfield role, the former Ballincollig product will join up with Rochdale's development squad and will attempt to catch the eye of first-team manager Keith Hill as he continues his progression.
Hill has already showed that he's willing to give youth a chance having called upon a number of talented teenagers and promoting them into the senior side this season.
It will present Japhet - who shares his surname with a more high-profile Manchester United player - with a more realistic opportunity of gaining regular action, as it was always going to be difficult for such a young and inexperienced player to make a breakthrough with the Premier League giants, particularly following the arrival of a number of big-money signings over the summer.
Competition for places
Luke Shaw joined from Southampton for £27 million and Marcos Rojo - another player capable of operating on the left side of defence - signed from Sporting Lisbon for £16 million, in the aftermath of his heroics for Argentina at the World Cup in Brazil.
The move makes sense for all parties as the Red Devils were keen to release Japhet Mata after it became clear he wasn't going to make the grade, handing Rochdale the chance to snap up another exciting prospect for the future.
Although it's not the most glamourous club side in the world, the free agent had been on the lookout for a new employer for the past few months, and will not be required to uproot himself and move far, due to the short distance between his old and new club.
Van Gaal's philosophy of promoting from within has already seen a number of previously unheard of players profit from an injury crisis that has affected Manchester United during the early part of 2014/15, but Mata is not one of them, and now he'll try to make his mark in the third tier with Rochdale.
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