Jose Mourinho has told Juan Mata that he has a future atManchester United – with the warning that he will not guarantee regular football for anyone at Old Trafford.
Spain midfielder Mata was sold by Mourinho just six months into the new United manager’s second spell in charge of Chelsea in January 2014.
With United offering a then-club record £37.1m for Mata, Mourinho sanctioned his sale following Oscar’s emergence ahead of the former Valencia player at Stamford Bridge.
But despite spending £26.3m on Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitarayan earlier this month, Mourinho insists that Mata has a place in his plans at United.
“I think since the first day, everything is clear between us,” Mourinho said. “There is space for him.
“He is a talented player but I don’t promise places to anyone. I promise respect and I like him.
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“So if he wants to stay and I think he wants – until this moment I don’t have one little sign that he wanted to leave so I think he wants to stay — then yes, there is space for him and yes, I think he can be useful to the club.”
Mata has scored 26 goals in 104 appearances for United since arriving from Chelsea, including the equaliser in last season’s FA Cup final victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley.
The 28-year-old faces a battle for his place with Mkhitaryan, but Mourinho claims that he proved his admiration for Mata at Chelsea by continually selecting him in his squad, only for the player to request a move to United.
Juan Mata walks off the field without acknowledging his manager Jose Mourinho during their time at Chelsea (Getty)
“I sold because he asked for that,” Mourinho said. “Nobody in my previous club wanted to sell or push him.
“No, it was his decision, he was not the first option, but he was playing every game. I never left Juan Mata out of my selection of the 18, but he was on the bench a few times.
“We had a proposal from a big club like Manchester United and we thought in the club that the proposal was very much acceptable, that it was very good proposal for that period, three years ago.
“In this moment, the numbers are going crazy, so numbers that looked very high (in 2014) now looks very cheap.
“But he wanted to leave and my philosophy is I don’t want players that want to leave.
“I want players that want to come and want to stay. I don’t want players that want to leave, so we sold Juan to United.”