The result of a three-way conversation that apparently took place between Juan Mata, Jose Mourinho and The Sun newspaper, the former was told his Manchester United future is secure if he accepts a reduced role in the first team, which the latter promptly relayed to the world.
Speculation dictated Mata would be one of the first casualties of Mourinho’s Old Trafford reign after the Portuguese infamously ostracised him when they were together at Chelsea, before sanctioning his £37m sale to Man Utd in 2014.
The Spaniard is allegedly against the idea of moving on again and has had fears of a forced departure appeased by Mourinho, whom, The Sun say, has told him he has a role to play next season, where he can expect to feature in one match out of every three.
With the Red Devils juggling the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup participation alongside their pursuit of the Premier League title, available to back at 6/1, the Spaniard could still clock up a decent number of appearances, but reducing his game time so significantly points to an orchestrated effort to exile Mata once and for all.
In 34 top-tier starts last term, he recorded a respectable six goals and five assists.
It was a tally accumulated through clusters of good form, with half a dozen of his 11 strikes or set ups falling across a six-game spell between August and September, three more occurring in a five-match run between mid-February and March and another three coming in the final four fixtures of the campaign.
Not one goal or assist came in a game where he was unleashed from the subs’ bench either.
In his redefined, bit-part role, Mata can look forward to plenty of substitute outings alongside sporadic starts before returning to the periphery for long periods and his stats from the previous campaign suggest he won’t do the business in such circumstances.