Juan Mata was today officially unveiled as a Manchester United player, following his first press conference as a Red during which, alongside David Moyes, United’s most expensive ever player revealed that he was excited by the opportunity of joining the champions, despite their dismal season so far.
Mata, who will wear the number 8 shirt following the path of illustrious predecessors such as Paul Ince, Nicky Butt and, ehm, Anderson, admitted he was eager to get going at Manchester United and that the move was “really important” as far as his chances of making Spain’s World Cup squad were concerned.
“I think no.8 is a great number,” said Mata as he spoke to the press for the first time since joining United from Chelsea on Saturday.
“I like the number. I know 7 is iconic here. I was speaking with David [Moyes] about it and we decided 8 is a good number for me. Hopefully it will bring me luck.”
Speaking of the pressure that will face him, now that he’s become United’s most expensive signing ever, as the club shelled out £37.1m for his services, the Spaniard was confident that he’ll meet the expectations and deliver for his new team.
“I love the pressure,” said the 25-year-old.
“When people are suspecting big things from you then it’s a challenge but I am looking forward to being successful.
“This is a massive club. I’ve realised that since I came here and I’m really glad to be here. This is the club that has won the most trophies and it’s down to me to show people the football I have inside of me.”
The former Chelsea player, who was named player of the season in both campaign he spent in South West London, revealed that he relishes playing alongside Wayne Rooney, now that the United striker looks destined to stay at Old Trafford, rather than replace Mata at Stamford Bridge.
“I will play anywhere the manager wants me to. I just want to help the team win as many games as they can,” said Mata, who then praised his new team-mate.
“For me he [Rooney] is one of the best players in the history of this country. 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 defences, try to be in the positions I have to be in to assist the strikers.”
The Spaniard admitted that United’s reputation for not overcoming difficult situations and facing challenges was as much of a lure as the size of the club and Mata believes United can still win the league this season.
“It’s a new challenge for me,” Mata 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.”
Meanwhile, David Moyes cut a relieved figure standing by his record signing, but the United manager revealed that Mata was the start of a major overhaul, rather than the end of United’s business in the transfer window.
“I am thrilled, I got wind a month or two ago it could be possible but I never thought we would pull it off,” said the United manager.
“When we got the sniff there was a chance Juan could be available we went after it right away. Congratulations to the club and [executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward for getting the deal done. There will be more players like Juan in the future, I’ve no doubt about that.”