Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has revealed that he dreams of returning to boyhood team Real Oviedo to take them back into La Liga.
Mata has been at United since 2014, but at 31 years of age and with just one year left on his contract (although the club hold the option to extend it by a further 12 months), is approaching a time where he will need to think about his next steps – especially given that he has been told he is too good to sit on the bench.
Asked in a Q&A on ManUtd.com if he would like to return to Real Oviedo, where he began his youth career, Mata replied: “That’s my home team, that’s the team that I support in Spain. I know a lot of people there in the club and I am [a] fan myself.
“At some point, it would be nice because there a quite a few players who have come through the youth ranks at Oviedo, like: Santi Cazorla, Michu, who used to play for Swansea, Adrian Lopez, who used to play at Atletico Madrid, and myself.
“So it would nice if we could all meet again at Real Oviedo and try to bring the team to the First Division because right now they are in the Second Division. Hopefully they can be in the First Division soon, that would be nice.”
With Oviedo currently 17th in the Spanish second division, it would certainly be a coup for the club if they could take Mata back.
However, Mata reiterated his pleasure to be at Old Trafford, fending off a question about whether he missed his former club Chelsea.
“You know I am very happy where I am,” he affirmed. “I am very, very happy to be playing for Manchester United, to be able to play for this incredible club, playing at Old Trafford every two weeks.
“I am very grateful for my time at Chelsea. They were two-and-a-half years and they were personally very, very good for me in terms of my development as a player, in terms of my development as a person.
“It was when I arrived in England and I needed to learn the language, another country, another culture and, in terms of trophies also, but the reality is now that I am at Manchester United and I couldn’t be happier.”
However, he also named the latter end of his time at Chelsea as the lowest point of his career.
“I was voted, for two years, Player of the Year, I was playing regularly and I was playing very good and enjoying my football and then the situation changed.
“I stopped playing as much, my confidence was not as high and that was a challenge in my career that I had to overcome, but I think that it’s normal. I don’t know any player that has a career that is going always good and always right.
“There are injuries; there are managers that don’t play football that is perfect for your qualities; there are moments in a club that are not going very well, so you have to adapt to these challenges and overcome them and then you will be an even better player.”