Juan Mata holding Manchester United shirt.

Mata: How United convinced me to sign

Sunday 29 March 2020 09:00

Juan Mata has revealed how he helped convince former employers Chelsea to allow him to leave the club in 2014 and complete his transfer to Manchester United.

The Spaniard had been voted Player of the Year in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge, but failed to hold down a regular place in the side during his third campaign in west London.

Despite that, Juan was initially keen to stay at Chelsea when United came calling in 2013/14, but the allure of being a Red was something he simply couldn't turn down.

"The summer before, there was some interest [from United],” the 31-year-old said during his appearance in the latest episode of the UTD Podcast.
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“No [I wouldn’t leave then]. I wanted to see what the challenge was and there was never really anything else other than interest. There was not an offer, so I didn’t have the real opportunity.

“As the season went on and the transfer market arrived in January, then there was an offer. I had some other offers also but I wasn’t going to leave either. I’m not one who wants to leave when the situation is tough.

“When Manchester United called and they said ‘We’re going to go for you and make an offer to Chelsea, we want you to come’, I spoke with them. I really wanted to go and really wanted to feel what it is to be a Manchester United player.

“I had suffered playing against United with Chelsea and they are definitely one of the biggest clubs in the world. At that moment, they were struggling with the first season of [David] Moyes and were not doing great in the league, but that doesn’t matter. I wanted to come to be a player for this club.
“I spoke to Chelsea and said: ‘Listen, there is this offer. It’s also good money and you can sign another player, because I’m telling you so that you have time to sign another player. I’m not playing a lot and want to take this opportunity. It’s perfect for everyone.’ So it happened.”

When both parties had agreed a fee, Juan was ready to make the long drive from London to Manchester. However, things didn’t pan out exactly as he expected.

“I thought I was going to take a car,” Mata said, “but, from the club, they tell me ‘No, we’re preparing a helicopter for you. We want you to arrive at Carrington’.
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“So the day everything was signed and I come for the medical, it was very windy and rainy. I was supposed to take the helicopter from next to my house in London, as there was a helicopter place, but we couldn’t so I had to go outside London. I remember that trip, coming with my parents over Birmingham, seeing everything because it was low.

“Then there was a point where we saw a green space with football pitches and a red building. We landed and Moyes was waiting for me and David De Gea, as soon as I went in.

"It was very special, to be honest, to arrive in that way. I’d never been to Manchester other than to play against City and United but, no, never before.”

David Moyes: “Juan is one of the finest playmakers in the game today and it's a real pleasure to have secured his signature. He's been instrumental in Chelsea's recent success, with a notable 28 assists and 32 goals in his last two Premier League seasons. I have been impressed with the excitement he has shown to be part of the new Manchester United. I know our fans have admired Juan for some time now – he has always played well against us – and I know they will be delighted to see him in the red of United.”

Daniel Harris (The Guardian): “The notion that Manchester United do not need Juan Mata is a curious one; his is an ingenious, improvisational flair, able to stimulate both instinct and intellect with comforting consistency.”

Gary Pallister: “He is the kind of player Manchester United fans want to see. He has great imagination and can get people off their seats in anticipation of the things he can do with a football. We are delighted to get hold of him.”

You can listen to the full Mata episode of UTD Podcast now, on Deezer and all of your favourite podcast platforms.