Reports today claim that Rafa Benitez wants to sign Manchester United’s Juan Mata to kick-start a new era at Newcastle United.

The Spanish midfielder was used sparingly at Old Trafford following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival, and may be available on a free transfer, according to The Sun.

Mata made just 22 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils last term, scoring three goals and grabbing four assists.

At 31-years-old, he is a long way outside the age parameters that Mike Ashley sets for signings. His wage – a rumoured £140k a week – would mean a restructuring of Newcastle’s salary budget.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

But were Rafa to persuade the hierarchy that it is a worthwhile deal, it could herald a new beginning on Tyneside. It would also be a sign that Benitez has been granted the assurances he wanted.

Certainly he is the calibre of player Rafa believes can take the club forward. He would add Premier League experience to the young squad – something that Benitez has been championing.

Mata could be the first big test of a new Ashley and Benitez relationship

Suggesting an approach for a player – regardless of his quality – north of 30, and commanding a high wage, will be a massive test for Ashley.

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Of course, not paying a transfer fee could provide some leeway regarding his wage. That said, senior players, like skipper Jamaal Lascelles, are sure to have clauses in their contracts to match the highest earners at the club.

If that is the case, then Mata’s projected salary would be mirrored by other players. The result is a rewrite of the pay structure throughout the club.

Whether Ashley and Lee Charnley would sanction such a change is debatable.

But if they have trust in their manager, they will see the pros far outweigh the cons. The results will speak for themselves, and they can reap the rewards in 12 months time.

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