Mata keen to link up with Rooney


Manchester United’s record signing Juan Mata has said he cannot wait to link up with new team-mate Wayne Rooney.

It had been rumoured that Mata’s move to Old Trafford from Chelsea for £37.1m could lead to a potential summer switch for Rooney in the opposite direction.

But Rooney, 28, is now in talks with United to extend his current deal.

And 25-year-old Spain forward Mata said: “For me he’s one of the best players in the history of this country. He’s an unbelievable player.”

Mata, who has signed a contract understood to run until summer 2018, predicted he would enjoy playing alongside Rooney.

He could do as soon as Tuesday after manager David Moyes revealed both Rooney and Robin van Persie trained on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s league tie with Cardiff.

“He’s a striker who can score, assist and come into midfield to take the ball,” added Mata of Rooney.

“I will try to connect with him as much as possible and find the gaps in rival defences. I think that’s my best style of play, to get into positions where I can assist the strikers.”

The attacking midfielder said he would relish playing under the pressure of being the record signing for the reigning champions.

Mata, who will wear the number eight shirt, also said United’s never-say-die attitude was not only an attraction but meant the club could retain the league title.

“What I like most about this club is the character,” said Mata, who was twice Chelsea’s player of the year.

“I think if another club were in this position in the league, it would be very difficult to come back and take first position, but this club can do it.

“This is the real image I have from Manchester United, always fighting to win titles, always coming back from difficult moments.”

The former Valencia player scored 32 goals for the Blues and made more than 130 appearances but had failed to command a regular starting place under Jose Mourinho, who returned to Chelsea last summer for a second spell as manager.

Mata, capped 32 times by World and European champions Spain, admitted moving to Old Trafford was “really important” to his hopes of making his country’s World Cup squad.

United boss Moyes said he was surprised the club was able to sign a player of Mata’s calibre during the January transfer window.

“I am thrilled,” said Moyes, whose team are seventh in the Premier League, 14 points adrift of leaders Arsenal.

“I got wind a month or two ago it could be possible, but I never thought we could pull it off.

“When we got the sniff there was a chance Juan could be available we went after it right away. There will be more players like Juan in the future. I’ve no doubts about that.”


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