Could Juan Mata stay at Manchester United?

Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata and Jose Mourinho

Midfielder Juan Mata looks set to remain at Old Trafford as manager Jose Mourinho will allow the Spaniard to fight for his place in the team. Manchester United is in Shanghai for matches against Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City before the team travels to Gothenburg, Sweden to face Galatasaray ahead of the new season. Mata is a part of the tour team and will have to take his chances to prove his worth to Mourinho. Mata was sold to United by Mourinho and Chelsea during the January transfer window in 2014. Mata has been a great addition for United and has many memorable moments with the club, including vital goals against Liverpool and Manchester City. Mourinho is in a different environment at United than he was at Chelsea, and Mata could fit the system that the new manager is planning to implement. Mata has been known to play with a smile on his face and his attitude could be a helpful factor in keeping the No. 8. Mourinho spoke about the potential transfer of Mata and sites his happiness as what could decide his future.

“He’s here and he works hard. He knows that I know he is a good player and he has space in the squad.

“Until August 31 the market is open for every one of my players that is not happy, but to be fair I think he is [happy].

“I think he is happy and I am not expecting him to ask to leave. I am expecting him to do what he is doing now, which is to fight for a place.

In the end there will be space for everyone, we have 38 matches in the Premier League, we expect to play a lot of them in the Europa League and domestic cups so in a squad of, let’s say, 22 players, there will be a space for everyone. So yes, there is a space for Juan.”

Mata will certainly be in for a tough fight to get into the starting eleven with the edition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who can play on either flank or in the No. 10 role, which are both positions Mata plays in. As Mourinho’s first season with United looms around the corner, it was somewhat expected that Mata would be on his way out of Manchester only two years after arriving. The apparent feud with Mourinho does not exist according to the manager, and the Portuguese boss even claims that Mata leaving was not part of his plans at Chelsea.

“First of all, I think maybe all of you misunderstood what happened in our previous club because I never told Mata to leave. I never pressed the club to sell him.

“It was his decision and only his decision, and I don’t like players that want to leave.

“That’s why I think every player has a price because if one day a player wants to leave it is because he does not want to be with us.

“If the player doesn’t want to be with us, goodbye – be happy where you want to go. Juan at our previous club was not so happy because he was not my first choice at that time. He wanted to play every game.

“He had a fantastic offer from a big club like Man United, he wanted to leave. My previous club had a great offer, we thought that was financially very much acceptable.

“We were not with this old-fashioned idea of, ‘I don’t sell players to my direct competitors inside of my own country’.

“We sold him to Man Utd and done. Nothing else.”

Mata is important to the team in a similar way that Patrice Evra was, except that Mata has more years left at the top-level. Evra helped players get accustomed to the team and the city and Mata has been seen helping out multiple players who have signed with United since the Spaniard’s arrival. On the pitch, Mata knows how to perform on the big stage and has been one of the most clutch players for United over the past two-and-half seasons. It would be a shame to see him go, which now seems less likely to happen.

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