Gary Neville delivers verdict on Juan Mata’s Man United future

Gary Neville discusses whether Juan Mata has a place in the Manchester United team this season

Gary Neville has questioned whether there is a place for Juan Mata in Manchester United’s team this season when all players are fully fit.

The Spanish playmaker has been relegated to the bench in recent games following Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s return to the starting line-up.

Mata has been limited to nine starts in Manchester United’s 15 Premier League games so far this season and it remains to be seen whether he can break back into the starting line-up.

The Spaniard ended up being an unused substitute in United’s 1-0 win over Tottenham at Old Trafford on Sunday as Mkhitaryan scored the only goal of the game against Spurs.

Mata will be hoping to break back into the United team during the hectic festive period in the Premier League.

However, former Manchester United defender Neville feels that the Red Devils team looks more “balanced” without the Spaniard.

Speaking to Sky Sports after Sunday’s game, Neville said: “I don’t think it’s a day to dismiss Juan Mata. It’s better to talk about the positives.

“I would always question whether Juan Mata has got a place in this Manchester United team in a wide area in the way that Manchester United should play.

“They should play with players that are mobile in wide areas, in my opinion. I think if Juan Mata was going to come back in it would have to be in one of the three midfield positions or as a No 10.

“For me, I don’t think it’s the end of Juan Mata. I think he’s been pretty good this season when he has played and I don’t think he had done much wrong.

“To me it looks as better balance [without him]. When you have Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front, you’ve got a player who is immobile and can’t run in behind, but holds the ball up really well.

“That tells you that you have to play with pace either side of him. What worries defences is pace, so from my point of view, the balance is right now.”

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Manchester United finished fifth and won the FA Cup under Louis van Gaal last season.

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