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Ole Solskjaer unsure on Mata future as he nears end of his Manchester United contract

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The Norwegian would be sad to lose a key figure in the dressing room, but can no longer guarantee the midfielder regular minutes at Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted he is unsure on Juan Mata’s future as the Manchester United star nears the end of his current contract.

Mata looks set to become a free agent in June, having only played a bit-part role in Solskjaer’s squad in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign.

The Spain international, who has scored 40 goals and laid on 47 assists in 256 appearances for the Red Devils since moving to Manchester from Chelsea in 2014, has been restricted to just 10 outings across all competitions so far this term amid intense competition for places at Old Trafford.

The 32-year-old now finds himself behind Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Fred and Scott McTominay in the midfield pecking order at United, who have emerged as realistic title contenders over the past couple of months.

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It now appears that Solskjaer has little use for Mata and that he will not be offered the chance to extend his stay at the club, with some reports suggesting that he could be in line to return to Mestalla for a second spell at Valencia before the January transfer window closes.

Solskjaer admits that he can no longer guarantee the Spaniard regular minutes, despite the fact he still sees him as a vital member of the dressing room, and did not rule out sanctioning the playmaker’s departure when quizzed on his situation at a press conference.

“The decision is very difficult every time with Juan. You know he’s got the quality. If he plays, he scores goals, he’s contributed this season,” the Norwegian boss told reporters. “Then again, we’ve had other players who have taken his role as well – Mason [Greenwood] has done well in that position, Paul [Pogba] now, and Juan really contributes in and around the group.

“So it’s one of those that I have discussions with all the time, it’s difficult to leave him out but unfortunately that’s where it is at the moment, so no decision has been made there yet.”

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Mata will be available for selection again when United travel to Craven Cottage to face Fulham on Wednesday night.

The Red Devils can return to the top of the Premier League if they beat Scott Parker’s side, before Solskjaer starts preparing his players for their heavyweight FA Cup fourth-round tie against Liverpool at the weekend

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