Juan Mata excited by Rooney link-up
New Manchester United signing Juan Mata has shrugged off suggestions he and Wayne Rooney want to play in the same position, saying he “can’t wait” to line up alongside the England international.
Mata, 25, who became the most expensive player in United’s history on Saturday after joining from Chelsea, is confident he can gel with Rooney, 28 -- a player he feels is one of England’s greatest ever.
The Spain international’s arrival, though, has prompted questions about how United manager David Moyes can accommodate two footballers who both want to operate as a No. 10.
But Mata said: “I can’t wait to play alongside him [Rooney]. For me, he is one of the best players in the history of this country. He is unbelievable: he is a striker who can score, can assist and can come to the midfield to take the ball and move so I think I will enjoy playing alongside him.
“I will try to connect with him as best as I can to try and find the gaps between the rival defences because I was doing this the last season. That is my best kind of play, to be in the position I have to be in to assist the strikers.”
Mata spent much of the first half of the season on the bench at Chelsea and said he is relishing joining a club where he is likely to play more.
The former Valencia man also said that he is happy to play wherever Moyes wants him to.
Asked about his probable position at United, he gestured to Moyes and replied: “That is a question for him. I would like to play anywhere, I would like to try my best to assist and score. I will try my best to improve as a player, to grow and to help the team as much as I can.”
Mata will wear the No. 8 shirt vacated by Anderson, who has joined Fiorentina on loan, and not, as some predicted, United’s famous No. 7 shirt -- previously worn by George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mata said: “I think No. 8 is a great number. I like the number. I know No. 7 is iconic but I was speaking with David about it and we decided No. 8 is a good number for me and hopefully it will bring me good luck.”
Mata declared that joining United is “great” and said the reception he has been afforded at Old Trafford has been “unbelievable.”
He added: “Coming here is a great moment for me. I feel very happy to be here, to have the chance to play for a massive club like this and obviously the last six months in Chelsea were a bit difficult for me but now I am very happy and looking forward to winning as many trophies as I can with this club because I am sure it will be a great, great period for me.
“I have to say the welcome was unbelievable for me, coming here by helicopter, the welcome from the manager, the players, the club and even the fans from social media has been unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, Moyes refused to give an update on the situation regarding Rooney and his contract negotiations.
The forward has begun initial discussions over a new deal at Old Trafford, but the United boss said: "I've left that to [chief executive] Ed [Woodward] and Wayne and his advisors. We'll give you an update at the right time.
"The right time to speak about Wayne's contract is at the time -- whenever that comes round. If you want to talk about his performances I can do, but I can't talk to you about both of them [contract and performances] together."