Juan Mata unveiling: £37.1m Manchester United signing quick to praise Wayne Rooney following switch
Mata attended his first press conference since leaving the Blues for their Premier League rivals United
Juan Mata has quickly taken the opportunity to talk up new Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney, saying he is one of the best English players “in history”.
The Spaniard made the assertion during his unveiling following his £37.1m switch from Chelsea.
"For me he is one of the best players in the history of this country," Mata said.
"He is unbelievable, he can score and he can assist.
"I will try to connect with him as much as I can. I will try to find the gaps in rival defences, try to be in the positions I have to be in to assist the strikers."
Mata's praise for Rooney comes after it was revealed that the England striker has been briefed on United's transfer plans and ambitions as the club look to commit him to a new contract.
David Moyes sat smiling alongside his new signing as Mata said it was a “great” feeling to complete what is undoubtedly the biggest transfer of the January window so far.
“Obviously the last six months at Chelsea were difficult for me,” said the Spaniard. “But now I'm looking forward to winning trophies for Manchester United. The welcome was unbelievable for me, coming here by helicopter... even for the fans on social media.”
Mata refused to blame his former manager Jose Mourinho for freezing him out at Chelsea since he returned in the summer. Mourinho decided that Brazilian attacking midfielder Oscar would be the focus of his side rather than the two-time Chelsea player of the year, and elected to drop Mata to the bench – sometimes from the squad completely – which eventually led to his departure.
VIDEO: Mata explains Chelsea exit
“I think it's football, everything is possible,” Mata explained when speaking about the manner of his Stamford Bridge exit. “The first two moments at Chelsea were amazing. The last six months at Chelsea were difficult but I respect that. Jose is a very good manager, they have top players, I respected my team-mates. When Man United came it was a great option for me.”
Asked about the pressure that comes with his price tag, Mata said: "I like the pressure, I think it's good for a footballer to try to improve.
"People are expecting big things from me and I am looking forward to it."
Mata, who will wear the number eight shirt, said he was attracted by the character of United and their reputation for never giving up, even claiming they were not out of the Premier League title race.
"It's a new challenge for me," he said. "This one was a massive challenge for me.
"What I like the most about this club is the character. I think if another club were in this position in the league, I think 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 Man United, always fighting to win titles, always coming back from difficult moments.
"The team is really good, the squad is really good. This season they have had some unlucky moments they didn't deserve. Hopefully from now until the end of the season we will win as many games as we can."
Mata revealed the move was "really important" to his hopes of making Spain's squad for the World Cup and said he was "really happy" to be at United.
"I just wanted to go to a place where I would feel happy," he added.
Asked about what position he would prefer to play in, Mata diplomatically responded: "I think that's a question for him (Moyes). I would like to play anywhere."
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