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With the January window approaching, there a lot of rumours flying about and the latest one includes Manchester United’s Juan Mata and Inter Milan’s Joao Mario. Both players are attacking midfielders by trade but can be deployed in a variety of different positions.
Additionally, both players seem to possess a unique set of skills that are vital to their clubs on some level. The swap deal in itself might not be a bad idea since neither club will lose out on a specific type of player but who will emerge as the true winner?
When one compares these two players, the first thing to stand out is their ages. Mario, at 24, can offer several years of top-class football while Mata is nearing 30 and is arguably not as efficient as he once used to be.
That said, there is no undermining his influence at Old Trafford though. As he has proven over the last couple of games, there are certain things only he can do to impact the attack and his creativity remains unmatched.
Interestingly, Mario is yet to boast of a similar role at Inter despite being at an almost prime age. He has failed to establish a regular spot for himself in Luciano Spalletti’s team and it does seem like he has not lived up to the price the Italians paid to sign him from Sporting in 2016. To throw further light on the matter, let’s take a look at their stats.
Despite appearing 11 times for Inter in Serie A, Mario has only spent 456 minutes on the field. He provided 3 assists and averages 1.1 shots per game. He has a pass success rate of 89.7% and makes about 1.5 key passes in every match. Averaging 0.9 dribbles per game, the player also wins about 0.3 aerial battles.
Mata, on the other hand, has made 14 appearances for United across competitions, having spent 961 minutes on the field. He scored one goal and provided 2 assists and averages 0.6 shots per game. Having a pass success rate of 86.9%, he makes about 1.6 key passes in a match and records 0.6 dribbles. Aerially, Mata wins a meagre 0.2 duels per game.
Hence, as far as the stats go, it does seem like both players are more or less on the same page. However, it is important to remember that Mario has nearly spent half the time Mata did on the field and yet his numbers are more or less on par with the Spanish international.
Furthermore, age does seem like a factor here since Mario could be looked at as a long-term solution. Thus, keeping all this in mind, the Red Devils might emerge as the true victors of this swap deal, if it were to happen.