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Juan Mata interest could mean Old Trafford exit for midfield star

| 23.01.2014

Manchester United’s intent to sign Chelsea outcast Juan Mata could mean the end of a seven-year stay at Old Trafford for Nani.

The Portuguese winger recently put pen to paper on a new United deal, tying him to the club until 2018, but with a number of clubs interested in his services – and Chelsea holding out for £40m for Mata – the 27-year-old could be on his way out as United look to offset the cost of the Spaniard’s transfer.

Nani arrived at United as another hot prospect from the ranks of Sporting Lisbon, having netted 11 goals from midfield after filling the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, the Portugal man has never quite fulfilled his potential in a United shirt, scoring just 41 goals from his 224 appearances.

Despite this, there is a belief that an injury free season coupled with an extended run of first team action could finally see him reach the heights many predicted – and it is this belief that has his old club and Serie A leaders Juventus keen on landing their man.

While injuries have limited Nani’s game time this season, the unexpected emergence of Adnan Januzaj has added competition for places and should Mata arrive in the January transfer window he could find himself even further down the pecking order.

While Mata is best used in the hole behind the strikers, David Moyes’ desire to keep Wayne Rooney on the right side of happy is likely to mean Mata – should he arrive – hugging the touchline and expected to influence games out wide.

Whether this is what the Red Devils need is a topic up for debate but one thing is for sure, Nani will not be willing to wait around to see what happens, especially with the World Cup looming large.

Nani is practically guaranteed a ticket to Brazil after featuring in his country’s last five games but Mata’s arrival could leave him short of game time and therefore form before the summer tournament.

And, with United now 80/1 to retain the Premier League title and odds against at 9/4 to secure Champions League action next term, the lure of the Juventus Stadium could prove too strong to resist.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.