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Transfer Rumours

Reported Newcastle United interested in signing Juan Mata on free – All sounds a bit unlikely, probably

2 years ago

In an ‘exclusive’ on Wednesday morning, Newcastle United are said to want Juan Mata this summer.

The 31 year old is out of contract this summer and unlikely to be offered a new deal.

Manchester United are widely reported to be concentrating on signing young players, with Swansea’s Daniel James and NUFC’s Sean Longstaff said to be amongst their targets.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanting to move away from the club’s failed line of concentrating on signing older high cost players such as Pogba, Lukaku and Sanchez.

The ‘exclusive’ comes from The Sun and that will only heighten the scepticism on this one.

Their report says that if Rafa Benitez gets his way, a new Newcastle contract would allow him to have the freedom to sign who he wants and included in that is an interest in Juan Mata.

Rafa has a good relationship with the midfielder who played under him at Chelsea (they were both part of Moussa Sissoko’s finest hour at St  James Park, Mata actually scoring whilst Sissoko got two, Rafa watching on as his team lost a dramatic game 3-2 back in February 2013).

In an added quirk, Juan Mata had his dad as his agent, who also represents Salomon Rondon.

Juan Mata invariably plays well against Newcastle and scored twice in a 4-0 win at St James Park for Man Utd in April 2014, plus of course scored the key goal (see photo above) that got his team back in the game at Old Trafford in October 2018, as they came back to win 3-2.

Like most of you I would be inclined to automatically write this kind of link out, especially with Juan Mata earning £7m a year (£140,000 a week) currently and surely wanting that at least matched at a new club.

However, the reality is that this is exactly the kind of deal (in terms of older players on big wages, smaller/no fees but no resale value) that the manager wants the freedom to do. Whether Juan Mata would be a player Rafa would be interested in is another matter.

In purely financial terms, Rafa Benitez would see perfect sense in paying the right player(s) £7m a season on a three year contract even if they happened to be aged 31, as part of a mix of signings he might make.

Where The Sun (and others) do get it wrong is talking of a supposedly rigid policy that hasn’t/doesn’t allow Rafa Benitez to buy players aged over 26.

Last summer (2018) Newcastle made five permanent signings and three of them (Dubravka, Ki and Fernandez) were aged 29 at the time, whilst Schar and Muto were both 26.

None of them though would have been given wages even approaching half of what a player such as Juan Mata would expect, probably none of them on even a third of that £7m+ Mata would command.

Transfer speculation is a pain to deal with at the best of times but when the manager situation is so uncertain, you can’t expect anything positive to happen until it is settled. Whilst on the other hand missing out on targets and players potentially deciding to leave, are a real possibility.

The Sun report:

‘SunSport understands Benitez is keen on a reunion with his former Chelsea playmaker. But he would need Toon chiefs to go against club policy to sign him.

Benitez remains in negotiations over a new contract at Newcastle having met owner Mike Ashley last Thursday.

Benitez has asked the club to be more open-minded about signing players older than 26 and to start paying more competitive salaries.

So any pursuit of Mata, who earns around £140,000 a week at Old Trafford, would be an early test of whether or not Benitez has got his own way.

Benitez worked with fellow Spaniard Mata when he managed Chelsea during the 2012-13 season and thinks his creativity, personality and experience could be perfect for Newcastle.’


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