Juan Mata does not look set to join Espanyol this summer, with sporting director Angel Gomez describing recent transfer links as "unfeasible". The affable Spanish playmaker's future at Manchester United is subject to considerable doubt following the appointment of Jose Mourinho as successor to Louis van Gaal, despite him having featured in every single Premier League outing last term and netting the first goal in the FA Cup final defeat of Crystal Palace at Wembley.
The Sunday People reported over the weekend that Mata's uncertain situation was being closely monitored by Espanyol, who were said to be prepared to offer him a move to Catalonia in the event that he was once again deemed surplus to requirements.
The continued benefits of investment from Chinese company Rastar Group, who acquired a 54% stake in the La Liga club earlier this year, are expected to be crucial to their summer spending plans.
Gomez appears to have firmly applied the breaks to any speculation, however, telling Sport: "I am surprised. I see it as unfeasible, because we have not taken any steps."
The expectation that Mata will become one of the earliest casualties of the new regime at United stems from previous events at Chelsea, where the player was controversially sold to David Moyes and United in January 2014 for a £37.1m ($48.6m) fee.
He had previously won the Champions League at Stamford Bridge and received consecutive player of the year awards during a three-year stint that followed his switch from Valencia, but surprisingly fell out of favour following Mourinho's return to west London amid concerns over his work rate, defensive nous and ability to thrive in the manager's preferred system.
Mourinho has yet to comment on Mata's future since officially beginning work in his new role earlier this month, although the player did feature for the second half of his first game in charge at Wigan Athletic on Saturday (16 July). After replacing new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the break, he quickly pounced on an error from veteran Latics goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen before unselfishly teeing up Will Keane to notch the opening goal of a comfortable 2-0 friendly victory.
Mata, who has been included in United's 25-man squad to visit China for International Champions Cup matches against Borussia Dortmund and Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, appeared to hint that he could be set to stay put during a quick exchange with a young fan that was posted to Twitter yesterday. Sat in a car alongside compatriot and teammate Ander Herrera, he said: "Don't believe everything that social media and the media says."