The Spaniard was expected to be a season-changing winter signing for manager David Moyes, who had already begun hearing the warning bells.
Moyes didn’t last long after that, but Mata survived and even thrived under the reigns of Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho in the five years that followed.
However, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he hasn’t been used much. His most recent outing arrived in the club’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford, with his goal being the Red Devils’ sole contribution of the game.
Come summer, when his contract expires, Mata is expected to leave as a free agent, and now, a promising club may require his services, albeit with a condition in tow.
The Catalan giants are expected to pay a salary lower than Mata’s current £170,000-a-week package at Old Trafford. However, the report does add that the player will be given a healthy signing fee and other bonuses to sweeten the deal.
It is also understood that Mata is in favor of a move to the Nou Camp, and would consider it a dream destination. His thoughts on the prospective pay cut remain to be seen.
Mata has been one of the most loyal players at United over the years, and the fans love him for his contributions to the club during their years of struggle.
It will be hard to see him go, but that is the precise kind of pragmatism with which Solskjaer is expected to operate in order to succeed at the club.