By George Overhill

10th Aug, 2022 | 6:10pm

Leeds United will get skeleton key for defences as Juan Mata looks set for move

Leeds United look like they are about to add veteran midfield maestro Juan Mata after he turned down all of the other offers for his services.

A report from Marca in Spain says that the former Manchester United and Chelsea man has rejected contracts from MLS as he feels he has a season or two left at the top level in Europe.

Going even further, teamTALK’s James Marshment suggests that the offer Victor Orta made directly to the player’s father is now the only option left on the table.

It therefore appears that the 34-year-old is set to make the controversial switch from Old Trafford to Elland Road, unless an unnamed side from one of the other top European leagues jumps in late.

The Spaniard, who has won numerous trophies in his career including the World Cup, European Championship, and Champions League, functions best as a true number 10, and used right could represent a secret weapon for Jesse Marsch to unlock defences.

While summer signing Brenden Aaronson is sure to start the majority of matches in that role, and rightly so on the evidence of his Premier League debut, if the Whites are searching for a late leveller and are pushing men forward there are still few in the game who can provide the killer assist like Mata.

When he arrived in England with Chelsea, and won their player of the year award two seasons in a row, he appeared set to be a genuine top flight star for years to come, especially as he was picking up international winners medals at the same time.

His career was arguably ruined by Jose Mourinho, who pulled his classic manoeuvre upon returning to Stamford Bridge of bombing out a popular figure to demonstrate his authority.

There is a view that the game has moved on from players like Mata, but that was also the case at the time and he was thriving at Chelsea.

That the Portuguese ended up coaching him at Manchester United as well didn’t help matters, as one of the most creative players in the league never regained the status he’d had in west London.

He certainly doesn’t have the legs to operate in a high-pressing game any more, if he ever did, but if he is to come to join the Whites he can be a vital option off the bench in the right circumstances.

If Marsch can put industry around him and give him a platform to feed the attackers ahead, what looks like a strange move in some ways could turn into a masterstroke in tight games where United are in the ascendency.

In other Leeds United news, the latest update from Sky Sports reporter Dharmesh Sheth gives the club a boost in their transfer hopes.