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Stoke seek win over a former friend

Stoke
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Juan Mata: I was unfazed by exit talk

Juan Mata has said he was pleased to be given assurances by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho that he had an important role to play in the club's future.

Juan Mata has been linked with a move away from Chelsea.
Speculation had suggested Mata could be heading to Old Trafford.

Mourinho praises Luiz

Mata, 25, was linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge over the summer amid rumours that he would not fit into the returning Mourinho's plans.

Speculation suggested he could go to Manchester United as part of a possible swap deal involving Wayne Rooney.

But Mata said he had been unfazed by the rumours, telling reporters covering Chelsea's tour of America: "I was relaxed about the speculation because I spoke to the club and the manager, who said I was important to them. That was good to hear.

"It's very good - everyone wants to feel important for the club, I feel it, I'm very happy and enjoying training with the new manager. I hope I can improve on the last two seasons."

Mata said he was relishing the chance to work with Mourinho and believed the relatively settled nature of the squad would serve Chelsea well.

"Obviously when you play more with your team-mates you have more of a connection," he added. "Last season, we had Eden Hazard and Oscar coming to the club, this season [Kevin] De Bruyne and [Andre] Schurrle, but not too many changes.

"I'm sure we'll find a connection with the new guys, and we are all excited to be working with a coach like Jose. He did a really great job here a few years ago, and I think that we can do it again."

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