Should Mata or Rojo stay at United?

Just over a week ago I read on Sky Sports that Juan Mata and Marcos Rojo said that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted them to stay at United and that they still have a future with the club.

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Juan Mata has more pedigree, experience and is more reliable overall. Credit: Sportsjoe.ie

I was surprised that in these meetings that Solskjaer actually wanted them to stay despite both players like virtually everyone else on the team had a dreadful season. So as United fans should Juan Mata or Marcos Rojo stay at the club? I know that most people would want to jump on the bandwagon and say well what’s there to discuss about these two and why they should stay at Old Trafford?

Both had poor seasons and Rojo has been injury-prone and inconsistent in his performances, while Juan Mata lacks the pace and physical presence for him to properly influence the game. First up is Juan Mata, who is one of my favourite players at the club. The attacking midfielder is intelligent with his passing ability and has good vision. His good eye for a pass has seen him contribute to the team with some important goals and assists.

The Spanish international is usually a good crosser of the ball and has scored some important goals like his crucial goal against Crystal Palace in United’s extra-time victory over Crystal Palace in the 2016 FA Cup final. His stunning scissor kick at Liverpool in March 2015 was a great highlight in his career also. He scored twice in that game to give us the victory at Anfield. In the 2017-18 season he chipped in with two key goals away to Leicester in December.

He’s also a dead-ball expert, where he scored two fabolous free-kicks for United that started a comeback 3-2 win against Newcastle, and the second made sure we beat Juventus 2-1 in Turin in the 2018-19 season. He has made 218 appearances with a total of 45 goals. He’s 31 and he probably has more left in the tank where he could play maybe for one or two more seasons.

He was voted Chelsea’s Player of the Year in both full seasons. He won awards like the FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League winners’ medals to add to his collection. Mata also started in the EFL Cup triumphs against Southampton and the Europa league victory over Ajax in 2017.

When we look at his stats he has a shooting accuracy of 46% which is quite decent. So nearly half of his shots are on target. His passing accuracy is 87% and tackles won is 7/14, duels won is 41/120, aerial duels won 2/10 and 50-50s won is 0. So its a mixed bag of stats that he has, but most players have some stats that are impressive and others that aren’t, so that’s not a big deal to me.

But for me what’s more impressive is his vast experience that he has not only in appearances for United but internationally as well. His list of honours is amazing. He won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships with Spain in 2012 where he scored in the final against Italy. Mata also captained Spain to European Under-21 Championship glory in 2011 and represented Spain in the 2012 Olympics. Few has the pedigree of Championships medals both for club and country like he has and he’s 31 so for me he isn’t that old where he can’t contribute much.

Now because of his lack of pace, physical prowess and his height and size, I believe he’ll be a good substitute off the bench. But he can still use his vast wealth of experience of success and his creative abilities where he can assist and score some goals is always appreciated by any fan in the game. One of our issues last season as a team was the lack of creativity and scoring goals. So he can certainly assist us in those areas. Mata can still have a positive effect on the game especially in the last 15-20 mins.

Marcos Rojo is too unreliable and injury-prone to have a future at United. Source: Sky Sports

Now we’ll look at Marcos Rojo. He’s 29 has made 113 appearances for United with 2 goals. So right away there are two distinct differences between Rojo and Mata. Firstly Juan Mata isn’t injury-prone like Marcos Rojo is. Ever since he joined United he had a string of injuries that has kept him out of the team for long periods at times. In his maiden season for United he was plagued by injuries.

This included a dislocated shoulder that ruined his second season as well. In that 2015-16 term he improved his amount of appearances with 28 games, and won a winner’s medal as a starter in the 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley stadium. The Argentine had his best year when won the FA Community Shield, EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League and he also played 41 times that season, but he also suffered a serious knee injury against Anderlecht in the Champions League.

This injury kept him out for much of the following season. Although he returned briefly he was unfortunately hit by injury again and only made a few appearances late in the 2017-18 campaign. So he has had a mostly injury-riddled time at Old Trafford and that is a big reason why I think he should leave. As he gets older most likely he’ll be more susceptible to injuries than ever before.

Secondly whenever he has a chance to prove himself in games he has been inconsistent. Obviously this is partly because of the many injuries he has had. But I’m talking more about his lack of judgement and positioning in the box. Sometimes he isn’t aggressive enough in confronting opposing attacking players quickly or his positioning in and around the box has been quite poor at times.

He has a passing accuracy of 75%, and 4/6 tackles won, 10/21 duels won, Aerial duels won 4/5 and 50-50s won 0. So we can argue that because he’s a defender and is much taller and is bigger in size than Mata that it would just make sense that he would win the comparison between him and Mata whose a central attacking midfielder in the defensive stats department. But I’m looking at the overall picture on who I think Solskjaer should keep between the two.

So in the end I believe that Juan Mata should stay because not only of his vast experience for club and country. You look at the fact he’s won a World Cup and a European Championship at senior level and won as captain of Spain at the European Under-21 Championships in addition to all the titles he’s won at both levels.

You can’t ignore that type of pedigree. He isn’t injury-prone and is more reliable as a player regarding his judgement and positioning on the field. He is most likely to make better choices with the ball than Rojo would. Whether he starts or comes of the bench, Mata more often than not influences the game with is wealth of experience, passing ability, vision and creativity from an overall standpoint when you look at Mata’s attributes compared to Rojo’s. Also Mata chips in with some vital goals as well.

Stats by manutd.com

Which player do you think should stay at United? Mata or Rojo? I would love to hear your opinions below in the comments box.

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