The arrival of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford during the summer meant something different to each member of the Manchester United squad.
For some it represented an opportunity to work with one of the greatest managers of his generation, while others gritted their teeth at the prospect of seeing less game time – or worse yet, being sold.
Given the manner in which the Portuguese moved him on at Chelsea, Juan Mata had been marked down by most as a near certainty to be shown the exit door shortly after Mourinho followed him to Manchester.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250-word test article: https://gms.to/haveyoursay5
However, the exact opposite has transpired as the Spaniard continues to produce some of the best performances of any United player this season.
The ex-Blue – whose current boss previously criticised his lack of defensive work ethic – has impressed to the point where it is wonder how his departure was a genuine possibility only a few months ago.
The Sun reports Mourinho has now backflipped on his perception of Mata and is eager to speed up contract negotiations and quash the uncertainty surrounding his future.
A United source said: "Juan has been a key part of the team this season, despite a relatively poor start.
"It was thought his contract talks could wait, but Jose is keen to tie down some of the players whose deals are tuning out.”
Mata earns £130,000-per-week on his current deal – which is set to expire next summer unless a 12-month extension is activated.
The 28-year-old is thought to be one of several veteran first-team players whom Mourinho has informed he would like to keep at the club for the time being.
Those include Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but given how important Mata has been to the United cause this season, his future is surely the top priority for Mourinho.
The 2010 World Cup winner has chipped in three goals and one assist in 11 Premier League appearances this season, and will likely play a key role in helping the Red Devils pull themselves up from sixth position on the table.