Juan Mata: Leeds’ next Pablo Hernandez?

In recent weeks, Leeds United have been linked with a shock move for free-agent Juan Mata.

Spanish outlet AS claimed (via Sport Witness) that director of football Victor Orta had been in contact with the 34-year-old’s father, who is also his agent, over a potential move to Elland Road.

Marca then suggested that the former Manchester United and Chelsea star would be willing to take a significant pay cut to play for Leeds, but there has also been interest from LaLiga from teams like Real Betis.

Now, talkSPORT pundit Gabby Agbonlahor has been talking about this possible transfer, claiming to Football Insider that the Spaniard would be the “perfect” signing for the Yorkshire giants.

They’ve got a lot of young players Leeds, a lot of inexperienced players in the Premier League, so I think he would be perfect,” the former Aston Villa said.

Agbonlahor added: “He might not play every game but to have him in there, to help the younger players and the less experienced players to play in the Premier League.

“I think it would be a great signing for Leeds. These rivalries are dying at the moment.”

Would Mata be a good signing for Leeds?




Shades of Pablo Hernandez

By sealing a move for the out-of-contract veteran, Orta could secure Leeds their next Pablo Hernandez, who was signed at a similar age, having featured in both LaLiga and the Premier League.

Mata has bags of experience. The 34-year-old attacking midfielder has made 277 appearances in the English top-flight across his spells at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, in which he has scored 50 goals and provided 64 assists, via Transfermarkt.

The ageing 5 foot 7 Spaniard has also won the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup, and this calibre of player is something that Leeds are certainly lacking.

Back in the 2020/21 campaign, Mata proved to be one of the best passers in the league, ranking inside the top 3% for pass completion per 90, the top 4% for assists per 90 and the top 1% for goal-creating actions, as per FBref.

That creative presence is akin to Hernandez in many ways, and whilst it was two seasons ago, the former Chelsea man was subsequently usurped by big-money signings like Bruno Fernandes, thus limiting his playing time at Old Trafford.

Once described as a “magician” by ex-Red Devils team-mate Marcus Rashford, it’s clear that Mata would add a lot to Marsch’s squad. Given the fact that he is currently without a club, he wouldn’t cost chairman Andrea Radrizzani a penny either, so it could prove to be a low-risk signing indeed.

In the 34-year-old Spaniard, Leeds could well discover their next Pablo Hernandez.

AND in other news, Orta can now seal “real coup” as Leeds plot bid for £34m target, he’s better than De Ketelaere…

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