Juan Mata

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

USWNT star Rapinoe an inspiration for others, says Man Utd’s Mata

Leave a comment

Juan Mata believes that Megan Rapinoe is an inspiration for other professional footballers, and human beings as a whole, for her outspokenness on social issues and desire to “make society a bit more fair.”

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines: Matchweek 3 ]

Mata is no stranger to actively engaging in conversations about, and efforts to solve, societal issues. Both Mata and Rapinoe have pledged to donated one percent of their salaries to Common Goal, a collective fund that aids soccer-related projects around the world.

The fact that Rapinoe, who won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player in guiding the U.S. women’s national team to the 2019 World Cup title, is a superstar of the highest level only amplifies her voice when she speaks. Mata sees that as a good thing, despite the backlash Rapinoe faced this summer — quotes from ESPN:

“She was scoring every game also and they won the World Cup so you can do it, you know.

“If you have time to do all the things and you’re generally passionate about football, and about society and about how to use the power of football to try to make society a bit more fair, then you can do it. That’s what we’re seeing.”

“I think you have heard many football players, both male and female speaking about social topics. I think many players are standing up for what they believe and I think it’s something nice. I think it’s good when football players do that.”

Whether it’s something as widespread as social injustices, as in Rapinoe’s case, or something as personal as mental health, players like Mata and Rapinoe are willing to lend their voices — and dollars — for the greater good, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Bailly injury announcement overshadows Man Utd win

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United defeated Norwegian side Kristiansund in Oslo on Tuesday, but the winning performance came with a dose of bad news.

Eric Bailly, injured last week against Tottenham Hotspur, is set to miss 4-5 weeks after surgery.

[ USWNT: Ellis stepping down ]

Juan Mata won and converted a stoppage time penalty for United, who provided Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a winning match in his home country.

Solskjaer split his starters and subs evenly in the victory.

But it’s difficult not to question United’s center back depth as Bailly suffers another spell on the sidelines. United has been heavily linked with a world record bid for Harry Maguire, but so far has almost the same CB corps as last season: Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe, and the ailing Bailly (Timothy Fosu-Mensah is back from his Fulham loan).

Official: Mata signs new two-year contract with option at Man United

Leave a comment

Manchester United is expected to experience some large turnover this summer, but at least one veteran will be staying into the future.

Man United confirmed the news that Juan Mata has signed a new two-year contract with the club. The deal also includes an option for a third year, though it’s unclear whether it’s a club or player option. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed, though the Guardian reported on Tuesday that Mata’s previous contract paid the Spanish midfielder around $9.2 million per season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

“It is a real honor to continue to represent this amazing club and our incredible fans. I have been at Manchester United for five years and I am proud to call Old Trafford my home,” Mata said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] and his fantastic coaching staff; the vision that they have for the club is truly exciting and I am so happy that I will be a part of that.”

Like teammates Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia, Mata’s contract was coming to an end this summer. However, unlike the former two players, Mata has agreed to stay, though it’s likely on a much smaller contract considering his diminishing appearances the last few seasons.

Mata made just 22 starts this past season for Man United, the lowest in his career since moving to England from Valencia. He also finished with just six goals in 42 games, one of his lowest outputs in years. Now 31-years old, Mata is likely being kept around to be a father figure of sorts for the young and transitioning Man United squad, as well as providing some midfield guile as either a No. 10 or a passing No. 6 that can start the attacking moves from deep.

“Juan is the ultimate professional and one of the most intelligent players I have worked with,” Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said in a statement. “He is a great example to our younger players in his approach. He understands what it means to be a Manchester United player and has embraced everything about this great club.

“As well as everything he brings on the pitch, we have some fantastic young players here and I know that Juan’s vast experience will help them to reach their potential over the coming seasons. I am delighted that he has signed a new contract, as I know that his talent and mentality will be invaluable to the squad.”

The former Chelsea midfielder joined Man United in a mid-season transfer in January 2014, reportedly worth more than $47 million.

Reports: Mata agrees to stay with Manchester United

Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United and Juan Mata are going to stay an item.

The 31-year-old has reportedly found common ground with United just days before his contract expired at Old Trafford, having been linked with Barcelona and Newcastle United should he have reached free agent status.

[ MORE: Latest on Rodri, Man City ]

Mata, 31, may be a key piece for a United team which is set for massive turnover this season, and had six goals and four assists in just under 1800 minutes last season.

He’s an extremely consistent player, scoring 50 Premier League goals with 60 assists between the Blues and Red Devils. He’s won the FA Cup and Europa League with both clubs, winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the League Cup with United.

Mata also has a Copa del Rey from his time with Valencia, and is a World Cup and EURO winner with Spain.

At least this way, Mata can be almost completely sure he won’t face a third stint under Jose Mourinho. Mata was sold by Chelsea after Mourinho lost interest in the midfielder, only to see United hire the Portuguese manager.

Herrera, Valencia, Welbeck all released, Mata offered extension

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the end of the season comes the expiration of contracts, and as Premier League teams begin the offseason and the end of June nears, more and more clubs are working to pin down their rosters and make room for imminent transfer arrivals.

Manchester United announced the release of 15 players on Friday, including captain Antonio Valencia and midfielder Ander Herrera, while Arsenal confirmed the departure of striker Danny Welbeck.

The Red Devils have cleaned house, although most of the departures are youth players who never made an impact on the first team squad. The most notable names are Valencia and Herrera, with the former ending a 10-year career at Old Trafford that saw the Ecuadorian international rack up 339 appearances and score 25 goals while assisting 62 more. Valencia hoisted two Premier League championship trophies and won domestic cup competitions three times, also winning the Europa League once.

At 33 years old, Valencia made just six Premier League appearances for the club this past season, and his time at Old Trafford was clearly coming to an end. It will be interesting to see where Valencia lands should he decide to continue playing.

Herrera, meanwhile, is leaving Manchester United still in the prime of his career. At 29 years old, Herrera made 28 appearances last season and was an integral part of the Red Devils midfield. Still, with his contract expiring and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaving Herrera out of the squad a number of times down the stretch, the Red Devils decided not to extend the Spaniard and he moves on from the club after five years at Old Trafford.

Juan Mata was not on the released list despite his contract ending this summer, instead appearing on the retained list, and reports in England indicate that he has been offered a new contract which the club is hopeful he will sign. At 31 years old, Mata has been with the Red Devils since joining from Chelsea in 2014, and while he was not a regular starter for the club this season, he is still an important squad player racking up over 1,700 minutes across all competitions.

Welbeck sees a five-year Arsenal career come to a close as he departs the Emirates on the expiration of his contract. The 28-year-old England international made 126 appearances for the Gunners but was hampered by consistent injury problems, with his knee, ankle, hip, and groin all troubling him at some stage or another. He began this season as a consistent option off the bench for Unai Emery but suffered a broken ankle in early November and never returned to action. Still in the prime of his career, Welbeck could be an important free transfer for a club that is willing to take the risk brought on by his injury history, and if he can find some luck and stay healthy, he could still have an impact wherever he should land.