Spanish. Premier League veteran. Proven quality. We’ve already seen Rafa Benitez become a Tyneside hero in recent seasons, but could Juan Mata fit that description too?
According to The Sun, the Manchester United midfielder is of interest to Newcastle, with the midfielder’s contract at Old Trafford expiring at the end of this month, and thus being available for a free transfer. The report claims Turkish giants Galatasaray are also interested in the Spaniard’s services, but the chance to stay in the Premier League might be too much of a temptation to turn down.
The 31-year-old has proven season after season that he has what it takes to operate at the highest level, and has been one of the Premier League’s standout foreign players for the past decade. Having originally joined Chelsea from La Liga side Valencia back in the summer of 2011, Mata’s two seasons at Stamford Bridge were littered with important goals and key assists.
He quickly became a fan favourite at the Blues, and even a move to Premier League rivals Manchester United did nothing to dampen their appreciation of him. And since being at Old Trafford, Mata has been the ultimate professional; working hard even when the team has under-performed, and being one of the few Red Devils players to not have their attitude questioned.
Even in his thirties, Mata could be an exciting signing for the Magpies. Pace has never really been the Spain international’s strong suit, so him getting slower over the coming years is hardly going to be a tipping point when it comes to thinking about signing him.
A move for the £22.5million-rated playmaker would be more about his ability to pick out a pass, dovetailed with the other midfielders and attackers already in the squad, while bringing a wealth of Champions League and international experience to Tyneside with him.
Picking Mata up on a free would be a piece of astute business from the Magpies, particularly with there being other areas of the squad that need strengthening. By only committing to the Spaniard’s wages, we’d be signing a Premier League level talent for next to nothing, and still reserving our money to potentially bring in a new striker and winger.
Mata, who earns a reported £160,000-a-week at Old Trafford, has been a fantastic servant for English football, and if Rafa Benitez can convince his compatriot to continue his journey here, then Newcastle could pull off the bargain of the entire summer.