By Craig Scott

15th Jul, 2022 | 11:10am

Leeds United to win race for Juan Mata as Victor Orta transfer talks prove successful

Leeds United are set to win the race to sign former Manchester United attacker Juan Mata on a free transfer with the free agent tempted by a move to Elland Road, according to La Nueva Espana.

The Spanish newspaper reported via their print edition on Friday (15 July, page 46) that a long-anticipated return to Spain will have to wait for the 34-year-old as he “seems to be continuing his adventure” in England with Leeds.

It is understood that Real Betis and Real Oviedo have failed in their attempts to lure the attacking midfielder back to his homeland in Spain with Victor Orta’s talks seeming as though they’ve been successful.

Mata “would arrive for free and with a significant salary reduction” after earning £5million (£96,000-a-week) in his final year at Man United.

La Nueva Espana adds that Mata will compete with Brenden Aaronson for a spot in Leeds’ starting line-up but the American is likely to be Jesse Marsch’s first name on the teamsheet for now.

No thanks

Mata is 34 years old and has barely played for Manchester United in the last two seasons.

Why on earth would Orta be trying to sign him?

It goes against everything the Spanish director of football has done in his time at Elland Road as he’s always avoided older outfield players like this.

While Mata has a wealth of experience as he’s played 277 times in the Premier League, won the Champions League and won the World Cup, he’s just not what Leeds need right now.

Do we need another attacking midfielder? No, we won’t.

Aaronson has come in while Rodrigo, Daniel James, Mateusz Klich and Sam Greenwood can all play in an attacking midfield role too.

Mata can also play out wide – but how would that suit Leeds’ system?

Jack Harrison and Raphinha patrolled the wings last season and if it wasn’t them it was Daniel James and Crysenscio Summerville – four players with an abundance of pace and trickery.

Mata is a playmaker who wouldn’t have fit Leeds’ system in his prime, let alone now when he’s 34.

This better be rubbish.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay says the Whites can “100 per cent” afford personal terms to sign this new player in a huge deal.