Juan Mata has continued to be one of the surprises of the season for Manchester United under Jose Mourinho, according to Gary Neville.
Former United defender Neville felt that Mata was the best attacking player in Mourinho’s front three — playing alongside Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial — during Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against Arsenal.
Mata opened the scoring in the 68th minute before a late equaliser by Olivier Giroud salvaged a point for Arsenal. It was the Spain international’s fourth goal of the season, following on from strikes against Bournemouth and Leicester City in the Premier League and Manchester City in the EFL Cup.
“I myself questioned whether he fits the profile of a Manchester United wide player, because that’s where he is playing, even if I know he ends up drifting in,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“The ability to counterattack and have wing play has always been Manchester United’s way, so you wondered where he would fit in. I have to say that’s been one of the surprises out of the first few months in Jose Mourinho’s reign.”
This season Mata has had to win the trust of Mourinho, who sold the midfielder when the pair were together at Chelsea.
“When Mata came off [against Arsenal] there was a little hug with Mourinho,” Neville said. “There seemed to be a level of respect that was not always there when he was at Chelsea, when Mata was ultimately sold.
“He’s adapted well, he’s played well, and he’s always had a good attitude. He’s a top player. At the moment, he’s doing very well. He was the better of the front three on Saturday.”
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate