Mata’s football career started out at the Bernabeu, but he moved on to Valencia to get first-team football quickly. Current Real boss Zinedine Zidane may move for the Spaniard in January with his contract at Old Trafford expiring next summer.
The 29-year-old would add experience and something new to Real Madrid, who have struggled significantly this season despite lifting a second consecutive UEFA Champions League last season.
Mata has been used surprisingly infrequently by Man United boss Jose Mourinho this season, the situation having been the opposite last season with a surprisingly high importance in the squad.
Despite the woeful form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and an injury to Paul Pogba, Mata was left out of Mourinho’s squad to play his former-club Chelsea in the Premier League last week.
Many have suggested Mata replacing Mkhitaryan in central attacking midfield could be key to improving United’s form, but he’s rarely been given a chance this season with Mourinho unrelentingly sticking with Mkhitaryan.
To lose Mata on a free transfer next summer of even excessively cheaply in January would be terrible, and the Spaniard appears to be genuinely enjoying life in Manchester, where he has made a wonderful connection with the fans. That same connection would, and never is, made with the unforgiving and demanding fans of Real Madrid.
The temptation of trophies would be huge for Mata, but hopefully he’ll remain a part of United with a contract extension soon, likely to be a one-year extension because of his age.