Juan Mata's top team-mates XI
Juan Mata has won almost everything there is to win in football, at both club and international level.
The Spaniard claimed world and continental titles with La Roja in 2010 and 2012 and has lifted every European and domestic cup on offer during spells at Valencia, Chelsea and Manchester United, with just a league title now missing from his collection.
It cannot be denied that Mata has shared a pitch with some fine players and we’ve put together an XI based on who he has appeared with most often, with some allowances made so we could fit them into a solid-looking 5-3-2 formation…
David De Gea (218 games with Mata)
Juan has played more games with David than any other player. The pair first shared a pitch for Spain’s Under-21s almost 10 years ago, and later appeared in the national side’s 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Cup squads together: the latter shortly after Juan had signed for United.
Miguel (110), Branislav Ivanovic (108), Chris Smalling (156), Daley Blind (110), Ashley Young (122)
We’ve selected a five-man defence, consisting of Mata’s team-mates from his spells at Valencia, Chelsea and the Reds. Right wing-back Miguel is one of two now-retired players in the side. The Portuguese played with Juan in Spain, winning the Copa del Rey in 2007/08. Three of the remaining four defenders will be familiar to United fans, with Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Ashley Young all sharing key roles with Juan in our Emirates FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League successes of 2016 and 2017.
Branislav Ivanovic, who could play full-back or in a more central role, is the final member of the backline. The Serbian played with Juan on 108 occasions for the Blues and admitted
“it was very sad and emotional for us because he was one of the loveliest guys in the squad”, when Mata left the London club to join United in January 2014.
Joaquin (131), Ander Herrera (125), Ramires (111)
There’s also a good spread in a diminutive but energetic midfield, with a team-mate from each of Mata’s three primary clubs. Veteran right-midfielder Joaquin, still turning out for Betis at the age of 38, gets in on the back of four seasons playing alongside Juan at Valencia, while Brazilian Ramires was a vital part of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League-winning side, even if a caution in the semi-final saw him suspended for their victory over Bayern Munich.
Juan’s good friend Ander Herrera, who left the Reds after five seasons in the summer to join Paris Saint-Germain, also makes the side. The pair featured together on 125 occasions for United, and Juan recently admitted he missed Ander in a Q&A with fans.
“We were living in the same area,” said Mata.
“We were seeing each other after training for lunch, dinner, to watch football together, so, of course, I miss him. He's a very good friend; I'm still in touch with him very often. He's very happy in Paris.”
Anthony Martial (133), Fernando Torres (123)
What a fearsome-looking front two that is! Anthony Martial edges out Marcus Rashford when it comes to Mata’s most common attacking team-mate. The pair combined brilliantly right at the beginning of the Frenchman’s time at Old Trafford, with Juan laying on Martial’s equaliser at Southampton in 2015, before later scoring the winner in a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Mata played some of his most fruitful football with our other striker in this line-up, the recently retired Fernando Torres. The World Cup winners featured together for both Spain and Chelsea, winning 1.95 points per game when on the pitch at the same time and laying on 19 goals for one another in 123 appearances.
MATA’S FULL XI:
De Gea; Miguel, Ivanovic, Smalling, Blind, Young; Joaquin, Herrera, Ramires; Martial, Torres.
ON THE BENCH
As mentioned, we didn’t just list the 11 players Mata featured with most: we allowed for a little creativity to fit players into a workable formation and system. That means Petr Cech (125 appearances and fifth in the overall list) has to settle for a place on the bench as De Gea’s deputy.
Other players who have racked up a ton of matches with Juan and have to settle for a place as a substitute in our XI include Marcus Rashford (111), David Villa, Antonio Valencia (both 109), David Silva (103), David Luiz (101) and Frank Lampard (100).