Juan Mata.

Mata: James and Mason are a credit to our Academy

Tuesday 11 December 2018 20:19

Juan Mata believes that James Garner and Mason Greenwood demonstrate the quality that Manchester United's Academy continues to produce.

The two 17-year-olds have travelled with the first team for our final Champions League group fixture against Valencia. with Jose Mourinho stating that Garner will be among his seven substitutes while Greenwood will be on standby should any late injuries occur.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday evening, Mata was full of praise for the pair and acclaimed the club's youth system for unearthing two potential stars in the making.

"I think it speaks very well about the Manchester United Academy and the quality we have coming through," Juan said. "I wish them the best and I really think they can be very important players for the club in the near future."

Youngsters train with Jose's squad


Two United prospects were working with the senior players on the eve of the Valencia match.

Both Garner and Greenwood have played for the Under-19s in the UEFA Youth League this term and have excelled. Greenwood has scored five goals in five games, including bagging a brace in our 6-2 trouncing of Young Boys, while Garner got his name on the scoresheet in our 4-1 victory over Juventus.

These two are no strangers to the first-team environment either, having travelled to the USA in the summer for Tour 2018, presented by Aon.

Mata believes the duo fully merit the chance to experience a European night with the Reds.

"I'm really, really happy that they are here with us," he said, "because they are fantastic players, but especially because they are great kids: the way they behave; the way they speak; the way they train. They really deserve to be here and they really deserve the chance to feel a Champions League night.

"But I want I like most about them, apart from their footballing qualities, is the way they are  - their personalities," he added. "They are very, very nice guys."

Meanwhile, Wednesday night's match means Mata is returning to the club where he made over 170 appearances and racked up 46 goals in a four-year spell. However, the Spaniard insisted that while he is relishing the opportunity to play in front of the crowd that once used to sing his name, he is still very much loving life in Manchester.

"I think tomorrow's match will be really special for me," he said.

"When I was playing with Chelsea, I came back and it was a night I will never forget, and tomorrow I expect to be the same.

"The match will not be really important in terms of qualification, but I think that the feeling will stay in my memory forever, because there will be many emotions involved, and the fans will help to create an atmosphere that will be incredible for me. This was my home, and I am so grateful to Valencia, because it was a really key period for me."

As to the question of whether Mata might play for a Spanish club again in the future, he declared: "All I can say is that I'm very happy in Manchester, in England.

"I've been living in England for some years now and I'm very happy to be at this incredible club [United]. Let's see what happens, but at that moment I'm really happy."

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