Is this a case of the wrong move at the wrong time for a player of such unquestionable technical ability that he could have become a legend in England like Silva or Hazard, had he had better guidance?
Never one to complain and almost universally liked, not least because of his Common Goal initiative, which encourages footballers to pledge one per cent of their salary to charity, it is easy to imagine that Mata would not kick up a fuss if he was unhappy.
He insists, however, that he remains content at Old Trafford, and there have been reports this week that progress is being made in talks over a contract extension beyond his current deal which expires in the summer.
But would it in fact be in Mata’s best interests to move on? He probably wouldn’t command as much as the £150,000 he takes home each week at United, but he also doesn’t seem like somebody motivated by money.
He is easily good enough at 30 years of age to be starting somewhere in Europe for a team in the Champions League or with aspirations of getting there.
At this stage of his career, having spent five of his peak years playing too little football and often out of position when he does get game time, it would be great to see Mata running the show once again as we know he can.