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Manchester United's Juan Mata targets Spain recall under Luis Enrique

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti assesses Spain's decision to appoint Luis Enrique and the challenges he may face as an international manager.
Luis Rubiales, President of the Spanish FA, announces the appointment of Luis Enrique as national team manager.
Sid Lowe and the FC crew conduct a deep dive into Spain's World Cup exit and call Fernando Hierro's tactics into question after the defeat to Russia.

Juan Mata is hoping a strong season at Manchester United will help him regain a place in the Spain team that is now led by Luis Enrique.

On Monday, former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique was announced as the full-time replacement for Julen Lopetegui, who was sacked on the eve of the World Cup following his decision to coach Real Madrid next season, despite having a contract with the national team.

A 2010 World Cup winner and 2012 European champion, Mata only featured once for Spain under Lopetegui, in a 2-2 friendly draw with England in November 2016.

"I will do everything in my power to return to the national team," the 30-year-old midfielder, who has scored 10 goals in 41 appearances for Spain, said to Marca. "I hope the new coach will count on me because I'm going to do everything possible to go back. I would love to help Spain become champions again."

Mata, who joined United from Chelsea in January 2014, made 36 starts in all competitions for the Red Devils last season, including 23 in the Premier League.

"I now return to work [with United] and I hope this is a passionate season, a good one for me and for my team," head said. The aim is to win the Premier League and do a good job in the Champions League, but above all to continue to enjoy playing football. This is my eighth year in English football and I consider myself a privileged person."

Mata is a fan of Spain's new coach, who guided Barca to nine trophies in his three campaigns in charge of the first team, including a treble in his first season at the helm.

"He fits the profile because he has played for the national team and because of his coaching career," the former Valencia star said of the 48-year-old manager. Spain struggled in the past three tournaments.

At the World Cup In Russia, La Roja finished top of their group after a win against Iran and draws against Portugal and Morocco. They lost 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw with Russia in the round of 16. Spain had suffered a group stage exit four years earlier in Brazil and lost to Italy in the Euro 2016 round of 16.

"We all know what happened with the coach and to the national team at the World Cup in Russia. Now is the time to rest and try again," Mata said.

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