Gary Neville reveals his initial thoughts when Juan Mata moved to Man United
The Manchester United legend delivers his verdict on Juan Mata
Gary Neville has admitted that he wasn’t convinced Juan Mata was the right profile of player for Manchester United when the midfielder move to Old Trafford in 2013.
The Spain international has proven to be one of Jose Mourinho’s most-consistent players since the Portuguese coach’s appointment as Manchester United manager in May.
The 28-year-old attacking midfielder has scored three times and has made one assist in nine Premier League appearances under his former Chelsea boss this season.
Mata scored his third Premier League goal of the campaign on Saturday afternoon after the Spanish star broke the deadlock in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal.
However, Neville has lifted the lid on his initial reaction when former Red Devils boss David Moyes signed Mata in a £37.1m deal from Chelsea in the 2013 January transfer window.
“He does score goals, and he does create moments in games. I myself questioned whether he fits the profile of a Manchester United wide player, because that’s where he is playing, even if I know he ends up drifting in,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“But with the size of the pitch here, the ability to counter attack and have wing play has always been Manchester United’s way, so you wondered where he would fit in.
“I have to say that’s been one of the surprises out of the first few months in Jose Mourinho’s reign. When Mata came off there was a little hug with Mourinho, there seemed to be a level of respect that was not always there when he was at Chelsea, when Mata was ultimately sold.
“He’s adapted well, he’s played well, and he’s always had a good attitude, he’s a top player. At the moment he’s doing very well. He was the better of the front three on Saturday.”
The Red Devils are in sixth place in the Premier League table and six points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal in the race to finish in the Champions League spots.