Man Utd man says fringe role is ‘not easy’, explains how he remains sharp

Date published: Tuesday 1st December 2020 10:35 - Matthew Briggs

Juan Mata TEAMtalk

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has admitted that being drafted in and out of the team is hard mentally.

The Spanish midfielder has been at Old Trafford since January 2014, when he swapped Chelsea for Old Trafford.

Mata has won the Europa League, FA Cup and the EFL Cup whilst at United, but his game time has been deteriorating. Still, he 32-year-old penned a new deal with United in June 2019 and he is under contract until next summer, with an option of a further year.

Mata has made seven starts this season, but he was back on the bench against Southampton after two consecutive Premier League starts.

Asked how he keeps his focus being moved in and out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, Mata told L’Equipe: “I try to stay strong in my head, to train as best I can, to be physically and mentally ready every time someone calls me. Even if, of course, it’s not always easy to be so when you don’t play every game.”

Asked how he keeps his mind sharp, Mata explained: “When I was 15, I left Oviedo / Asturias, the city where I grew up, to join the Real Madrid training centre.

“At that age, when you are away from your parents and friends, you grow up faster. I found myself competing with very talented young people and I didn’t know if I was at their level. I was a little terrified.

 

 

Mata wary of PSG

“And then, suddenly, I was aware of my qualities, but also of my ability to progress. Since then, every time I face competition, I saw it as an opportunity to improve myself.”

Mata has started once in the Champions League this season and he will be hoping to get the nod against PSG on Wednesday night.

Mata added: “PSG are an excellent team, who recently took part in the Champions League final.

“During our match at the Parc des Princes, we had performed well (2-1 win) but, given the evolution of the group, I am sure that the Parisians will come to Old Trafford to win. We know how dangerous they can be.”

READ MORE: Solskjaer says Mata unhappy with bench role

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