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Mourinho moves to clarify Juan Mata's future at Man Utd

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Mata will feature in Mourinho's plans
Mata will feature in Mourinho's plans

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has insisted Spanish midfielder Juan Mata has a big role to play in his plans, despite weeks of speculation insisting he will be sold this summer.

Mourinho off-loaded Mata at Chelsea in January 2014, so the assumption was that a similar course of action may now take place following his arrival at Old Trafford.

Yet the United manager has downplayed those rumours, as he offered this vote of confidence in Mata.

"It is a strange question because I don't understand why he doesn't have a future," Mourinho said.

"First of all, I think maybe all of you misunderstood what happened in our previous club because I never told Mata to leave. I never pressed the club to sell him.

"It was his decision and only his decision and I don't like players that want to leave.

"That's why I think every player has a price because if one day a player wants to leave it is because he does not want to be with us.

"If the player doesn't want to be with us, goodbye - be happy where you want to go.

"Juan at our previous club was not so happy because he was not my first choice at that time. He wanted to play every game.

"He had a fantastic offer from a big club like Man United, he wanted to leave. My previous club had a great offer, we thought that was financially very much acceptable.

"We were not with this old-fashioned idea of 'I don't sell players to my direct competitors inside of my own country'. We sold him to Man United and done. Nothing else.

"In this moment I arrive, he's here, he works hard. He knows that I know he is a good player and he has space in the squad.

"But again until the 31st of August the market is open for every one of my players that is not happy.

"But, to be fair, I think he is. I think he is happy and I am not expecting him to ask to leave. I am expecting him to do what he is doing now, which is to fight for a place.

"In the end there will be space for everyone, we have 38 matches in the Premier League, we expect to play a lot of them in the Europa League and domestic cups so a squad of let's say 22 players there will be a space for everyone. So, yes, there is a space for Juan."

Mourinho also insisted Wayne Rooney would remain as United's captain and would play a key player next season, despite strong competition for places in the forward line following the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"I am quite surprised with so many question marks around this guy," the United said of Rooney.

"I know that at the national team level you have this capacity of trying to make things complicated for yourself, so what happened around him in the summer was not a surprise for me.

"But in my club we are not going to have that. He is the club captain, he is the manager's captain, he is the players' captain.

"I trust him a lot. I think he's going to be a very important player for me and no problem for him.

"He knows that he has to work hard, he knows that but I think that is nothing new in his career. Everything he got I see nobody offer him, he had to fight for it.

"With me it is not going to be different. But, yes, he is my captain."