Real Madrid are reportedly interested in making what would be considered a shock move for Manchester United fan favourite Juan Mata in January in a bid to boost their squad depth.
Mata has previously been tipped to sign a new contract at Old Trafford - most recently after rejecting advances from China earlier this season - with his current deal due to expire at the end of the season.
But with less than eight months remaining, no agreement appears to have yet been reached and the Daily Express claims that will present Real with an opportunity to make their approach.
The newspaper alleges that Real are keen on landing Mata to 'spark fresh impetus' after a mixed start to the 2017/18 season and that United may be willing to listen to offers in January given the player's age - 30 in April - and his contract situation.
Mata, who was infamously sold to United by Chelsea after failing to suitably impress Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, is a popular player at Old Trafford and has remained an important part of the squad on multiple fronts this season.
It has been highlighted that the Spaniard was omitted from the matchday squad for the trip to Chelsea at the weekend, and that his only Premier League appearance in October saw him substituted at half-time in the shock defeat to Huddersfield.
However, what has been somewhat ignored is that Mata did start six of United's first seven Premier League games, all wins, scoring in the most recent of that run against Crystal Palace. It should also be pointed out that while he was largely absent from domestic games in October, he was a starter in back-to-back Champions League wins over Benfica during the month.
(You may also be interested in Man Utd 'Consider' De Gea Departure in Varane-Plus-Cash Deal With Real Madrid).
Mata already has a history with Real Madrid as a product of the club's prolific youth academy. He signed with Los Blancos as a 15-year-old after starting his football journey with Real Oviedo, later progressing through the ranks to the club's Castilla B side.
It was from there that he joined Valencia in 2007, before moving on to Chelsea in 2011 and then finally United in 2014.