Mour­inho: ‘Mata has key role to play for us’

Evening Telegraph (First Edition) - - Uk World Today -

JUAN Mata (right) has wel­comed Manch­ester United’s move to ex­tend his con­tract for an­other sea­son as Jose Mour­inho backed him to play a key role.

The Span­ish play­maker was in the fi­nal six months of the deal he signed when he joined the club from Chelsea in 2014 but United had the op­tion of keep­ing him for an extra sea­son.

That op­tion has now been trig­gered, with the 29-year-old now com­mit­ted to the Old Traf­ford club un­til the sum­mer of 2019.

Asked if the con­tract had been ex­tended, Mour­inho took a break from pre­par­ing his team to face Manch­ester United at Wem­b­ley tonight to say: “Yes it was. Last week or some­thing like that.”

There was spec­u­la­tion about Mata’s fu­ture when Mour­inho took charge at United in 2016.

Mour­inho was man­ager at Chelsea when Mata was al­lowed to leave Stam­ford Bridge in a £37.1 mil­lion deal four years ago.

How­ever, Mata has his man­ager’s con­fi­dence and said: “I still feel very happy and very proud to be part of this club.

“I think ev­ery­one that be­longs to Manch­ester United should feel priv­i­leged, and that’s how I feel.”

He told MUTV: “I’m happy with ev­ery­one at the club and, ob­vi­ously, with the man­ager and my team-mates.

“Once you are part of this club, your foot­ball ca­reer is not the same. It changes, be­cause this is one of the big­gest clubs in the his­tory of foot­ball.

“We have had so many new play­ers dur­ing my four years but now we know each other and un­der­stand each other bet­ter.

“We are cre­at­ing a kind of sta­bil­ity that I be­lieve is needed to build and to cre­ate a pos­i­tive con­sis­tency in terms of get­ting re­sults and get­ting tro­phies.”

Spec­u­la­tion re­turned last week when United com­pleted the sign­ing of Alexis Sanchez from Arse­nal, with ques­tions aris­ing over where Mata would now fit into the team.

How­ever, Mour­inho said: “Mata is very im­por­tant. He is an­other one, big story when I ar­rived one and a half years ago ‘ Mata in trou­ble, in trou­ble, in trou­ble’.

“Now he’s get­ting an ex­ten­sion of one more year.

“He is an im­por­tant player for me, an im­por­tant player for the club, an im­por­tant player for the other play­ers.”

In terms of United’s at­tack, Mour­inho feels there are no ob­vi­ous weak­nesses.

In an an­swer that ap­peared to quell re­cur­ring spec­u­la­tion United may at­tempt to re-sign Cris­tiano Ron­aldo from Real Madrid, Mour­inho said: “I think in at­tack it’s dif­fi­cult for us to im­prove.

“Where are we go­ing to get a bet­ter com­bi­na­tion of play­ers than we have?

“We can­not buy Lionel Messi, we can­not buy Cris­tiano. These are the best play­ers of the last decade.”

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