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Miranda over Mata? Atletico to offer Man Utd cash plus player swap

Atletico Madrid (14/1 with Coral to win the Champions League) could be about to make Manchester United an offer they can’t refuse, with Juan Mata said to be the subject of an ambitious player plus cash swap deal.

Diego Simeone’s side are supposedly set to swoop for midfield maestro Mata, who has so far enjoyed a mixed time at Old Trafford, and may use much sought-after centre back Miranda as a sweetener.

The Red Devils’ rearguard has been a glaring weakness over the past few campaigns, and Louis van Gaal is said to be eager to add experience to his collection of young and injury-prone defenders.

Atleti could now use this to their advantage, and are rumoured to be readying an offer for 30-year-old Miranda plus £22m to lure Mata back to La Liga.

It is thought that the Old Trafford outfit were initially interested in a part-exchange agreement for Mata’s highly-rated midfield compatriot Koke, but the Spanish capital club seem keen to keep hold of their prize asset.

United paid £37.1m to prise Mata from Chelsea in January 2014 but, despite scoring some key goals, the skillful Spain international has failed to make the impact expected.

Undeniably gifted, Mata has certainly provided moments of magic but has also equally frustrated, with games often passing him by, and the 26-year-old has struggled to settle in United’s system this season.

The ex-Valencia attacker’s lack of pace and physicality would be less exposed in La Liga and, if savvy Simeone could build a team around Mata like Rafa Benitez did at Chelsea, Spain could see the best of him again.

Atleti are strong at centre back, and could still count on talented Uruguay pair Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez to marshal the heart of defence were Miranda to depart, but do need top quality additions in attack.

Man United (3/1 to lift the FA Cup), meanwhile, are overstocked with superstar forwards and are finding it hard to field all of Mata, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria, so a swap would make sense for both parties.

Should Mata continue to be used as a squad player, he may favour a return to his homeland, where he could become a crucial cog again for Atletico, who are also reportedly ready to raid Arsenal for creator-in-chief Santi Cazorla.