Juan Mata could be in line for a shock return to Spain, with Real Madrid preparing a January swoop for the Manchester United midfielder.

Madrid have endured a poor start to the season and, according to the Daily Express, have targeted Mata to boost creativity in a team sitting third and eight points behind Barcelona in La Liga and well as second in their Champions League group behind Tottenham.

The 29-year-old is out of contract at Old Trafford in the summer and United will be keen to recoup a fee for the former Valencia and Chelsea star to avoid him leaving on a free transfer.

Although Mata has played a prominent role this term, starting 11 of the 12 matches he has featured in, he has also failed to complete 90 minutes under Jose Mourinho in this campaign.

The Spain international scored against Crystal Palace back in September but hasn't featured in a Premier League game since being substituted at half-time in the humiliating 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield Town in October.