Juan Mata has been an important player for Manchester United since his arrival at the club. But apart from his creative style and ability as an attacking midfielder, the Spaniard also represents something more.
He was the first major signing made by the Red Devils in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. His 2014 move from Chelsea was the then club record signing, and he was initially even touted to take the number 7 jersey.
But since then, a huge number of names have come and gone from the club, but he has remained, with his time at Old Trafford now four years strong.
Now, in an exclusive interview with ESPN, Mata gave a major update on what he expects in the future, and also revealed that he would love to spend more time at United and play for nearly a decade more.
The playmaker stated: “Why not? I’m 29 and hopefully, I can play football for some more years. It would be great to play until I’m 40 like Ryan Giggs. But that’s still a bit far, still 11 years.”
Commenting on his journey with the Premier League giants, he said: “I’m happy here. The club is massive, the support we have is massive. I’ve been settled down in the city since year one.
“Now it’s my fourth year in Manchester. You never know what can happen in football and in life. But my feeling now is that I’m happy here and I wouldn’t have any problem continuing here for more time.”
Further, it isn’t just the future of his playing days that he has in mind, as the former Chelsea star also broached on the subject of becoming a manager someday.
“If you had asked me a few years ago whether I wanted to be a manager, I would say no. I think every footballer, after 20 years playing football, the first thing that comes to your mind is to relax,” he added.
“One, two years gap and do other things in life and enjoy other hobbies you might have. Right now, with years of understanding the game better, understand more the tactical approach or communicate with teammates, how to motivate them, I wouldn’t say no to becoming a manager but I don’t know.”
So if all goes well, the Old Trafford faithful will see him perform magic on their illustrious pitch for potentially several more years, and who knows, perhaps Mata will be the one to lead the club into its next era, after having started this one.
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.