Jose Mourinho insists he never pressed Chelsea to sell Juan Mata and says the playmaker has a role to play in his Manchester United squad.
Former Chelsea star Mata was sold by Mourinho to joined United in a £37.1million deal – then a club-record purchase – in January 2014 amid suggestions the manager did not rate the Spaniard.
Mata’s future at Old Trafford has come under particular scrutiny since Mourinho was appointed by United this summer, but the Portuguese coach was keen to set the record straight and confirmed the Spain international has an Old Trafford future.
“Well again it is a strange question because I don’t understand why he doesn’t have a future,” Mourinho said.
“First of all, I think maybe all of you misunderstood what happened in our previous club because I never told Mata to leave. I never pressed the club to sell him.
“It was his decision and only his decision and I don’t like players that want to leave.
“That’s why I think every player has a price because if one day a player wants to leave it is because he does not want to be with us.
“If the player doesn’t want to be with us, goodbye – be happy where you want to go.
“Juan at our previous club was not so happy because he was not my first choice at that time. He wanted to play every game.
“He had a fantastic offer from a big club like Man United, he wanted to leave. My previous club had a great offer, we thought that was financially very much acceptable.
“We were not with this old-fashioned idea of ‘I don’t sell players to my direct competitors inside of my own country’. We sold him to Man United and done. Nothing else.
“In this moment I arrive, he’s here, he works hard. He knows that I know he is a good player and he has space in the squad.
“But again until the 31st of August the market is open for every one of my players that is not happy.
“But, to be fair, I think he is. I think he is happy and I am not expecting him to ask to leave. I am expecting him to do what he is doing now, which is to fight for a place.
“In the end there will be space for everyone, we have 38 matches in the Premier League, we expect to play a lot of them in the Europa League and domestic cups so a squad of let’s say 22 players there will be a space for everyone. So, yes, there is a space for Juan.”