Dwight Yorke feels the seemingly-imminent arrival of Angel di Maria to Manchester United will bring the best out of Juan Mata.
Real Madrid star Di Maria, who is set to complete a £63.9million switch to the Premier League, could put pressure on Mata for a spot in the Old Trafford side’s front three alongside Robin van Persie and captain Wayne Rooney.
But former United striker Yorke thinks Mata, who netted The Red Devils’ goal in the 1-1 draw at Sunderland, could dovetail with the Argentine.
And the Sky Sports pundit believes Di Maria will provide the injection of speed that pass master Mata needs to flourish – and which, he says, is not being supplied by United’s other players.
“Mata is too in and out of games, not doing enough and doesn’t kick on when he has a really good match,” Yorke said of the Spaniard, who United signed from Chelsea for £37.1million.
“He needs to step up to the plate and do the things that attracted Man United to him - getting on the ball and supplying the strikers – and I think Di Maria will help him.
“Man United look an average team at the moment as they are passing the ball sideways, taking the easy option and becoming too predictable and easy to play against.
“But Di Maria will go past people, take the ball 20 yards up the pitch and create space for Mata, who at the moment gets quite stifled.”
Yorke’s fellow pundit Niall Quinn also thinks Di Maria will be a superb acquisition for United, who finished seventh in the top flight last term and subsequently missed out on Champions League football for the first time since 1995.
And the ex-Man City frontman says the Old Trafford hierarchy must continue to entrust new manager Louis van Gaal with significant funds if they want the club to return to their former glories.
“Di Maria will give everyone a huge lift if he comes in as, like Arjen Robben, he can do three or four different things and play in three or four different positions,” said Quinn.
“However, there are definitely more weaknesses at United and, like a cracked windscreen, they need to sort it out before it gets any worse.
“Van Gaal’s philosophy is reportedly to include and promote young players but it doesn’t work without with great and iconic players coming to the club, so the board need to stand up.”
“But they have a great manager – an arrogant and provocative manager – who has an unbelievable track record and the power to put it right, so he will turn it around over time.”