Man Utd’s Juan Mata decision could confirm permanent Jesse Lingard to West Ham transfer

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Juan Mata had been expected to leave Manchester United on a free transfer in the summer but new reports suggest that the Spaniard has had his contract at Old Trafford extended by an extra 12 months.

The 32-year-old playmaker has given seven years of service to United since joining from Chelsea when David Moyes was manager, winning an FA Cup, the Europa League and a League Cup.

Mata has been a dependable player since a then club-record £32million move but has barely featured under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season, having also seen his minutes decline last term.

The No 10 – who has made 267 appearances for United – has started just four Premier League matches in the current campaign and has amassed just 338 minutes of action in the league.

The 41-cap Spain international’s last Premier League start came back on November 21, although he might have played more in the Europa League more recently if not for a muscle injury.

Still, it was thought that Mata might move on in the summer on a free transfer. Yet the Daily Star say a one-year extension option has been triggered.

That means United can demand £5million from any clubs keen to sign Mata this summer but the Star add that the player is happy to remain in Manchester for another year, despite his lack of minutes.

And given recouping £5m would do fairly little for United’s summer transfer plans, Solskjaer might prefer to keep him as back-up, especially with United looking to put up a stronger Premier League title push and have a better go at the Champions League.

Mata is a popular figure at United, among players and staff, and it’s said Solskjaer would like to keep him on board because of that, in spite of the fact he hardly features on the pitch.

Mata staying at United would come as welcome news for West Ham – as it may all but confirm that Jesse Lingard will be free to move to the London Stadium permanently, for the right price at least.

The 28-year-old attacker has been sublime for the Hammers since joining from United on a six-month loan deal in January.

Lingard has produced five goals and three assists in just seven Premier League outings, even returning to Gareth Southgate’s thinking for the England national team, having played in all of the three recent World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

Before linking up with the Londoners, Lingard had not played in England’s top flight since scoring on the final day of last season at Leicester, on July 26.

It had been suggested that Lingard might take up the minutes left vacant by Mata if he left Old Trafford and so the Spaniard staying an extra 12 months would surely push the former towards a full-time West Ham switch.

It’s unclear how much it would take to keep Lingard in the capital although given his contributions thus far, which could even go on to fire West Ham into the Champions League, Moyes and co. will surely want the deal done at almost any cost.

While the versatile homegrown attacker could still play a role at United, the Red Devils’ ambitions to further strengthen their forward line – with Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho long-term targets – means it might suit all parties best for a permanent switch worth say £20million to be signed off.

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Moyes reckons Lingard will be thankful to West Ham for helping him revive his Premier League career, but insisted there is no agreement in place to make it a longer term move.

And the Scot said this weekend: “I’m also asked about keeping Jesse Lingard when we brought him to give him some games. So, to suddenly turn around and say we need to make the Champions League to keep them.

“Well, I think all those boys would be saying a massive thank you to West Ham for actually helping them get their careers back on track and putting them in the right direction.

“If we make the Champions League, I don’t see that has to be the reason that we can keep them.

“We’d love to have Jesse, because of how well he’s doing, but we’ve still get nine games to go to, to judge and assess Jesse.

“Just like Manchester United will have a period of time to think whether they want to sell or keep him. There’s nothing in place at the moment.”

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