Juan Mata 'excited' by possibility of reviving Spain career under Luis Enrique
Juan Mata is hopeful a new era for Spain might signal a fresh beginning for his own international career, the Manchester United midfielder told ESPN FC.
Mata watched from afar as Spain's World Cup campaign descended into chaos; first with coach Julen Lopetegui's sacking on the eve of the tournament, and then with a penalty shootout defeat to unfancied Russia in the round of 16.
The Spanish FA have acted fast to appoint former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique as they look to rebuild ahead of the European Championship in 2020.
And Mata, 30, who was last capped in 2016, is hopeful that could spell good news for him.
"I was disappointed not to go [to the World Cup]," he told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview. "But then after that, I was hoping for them to win -- and I think we had the team to win. We had the players to play and fight for another big trophy.
"I think the generation is different, but the quality is still there. The talent is still there.
"I thought we were going to do better than we did. That's a fact. I think we all thought that. But this football and these things happen and, you know, it didn't work out as good as we wanted to.
"Now, things have changed. We have a new manager again, Luis Enrique. A manager who has played in the national team for many games. He's managed big teams.
"I'm again excited about the possibility of coming back. I obviously want to come back and try to play as many games as I can with the national team.
"I'm really excited about it and I think the future, it can be still bright for Spain, because we have young players coming that, as I said, they have the level to compete. We have some senior players that we have been there for some years and we have the experience so I think it's a good mix and hopefully it can be a good future for Spanish football."
Mata's omission from Spain's World Cup squad has meant he is one of the few senior United players to head to the United States for their preseason tour.
Established stars like Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford have not travelled for the five-game trip, but it has presented opportunities for a number of young players, including 16-year-old Mason Greenwood and 17-year-old James Garner.
"We all know that this is not the squad that is going to be the first-team squad when we start the Premier League in the first game of the season," said Mata. "But it is what it is. And I like to see it in a positive way, which is so many youngsters are with us.
"It speaks very well about how the Manchester United academy is working and it's an incredible experience for them.
"So for us, the senior players, it's about getting some minutes and getting the rhythm of the game.
"And for the kids, it's just the preseason of their lives, I believe. Because, if I was 19, 20, 18 and I had the chance to play with first-team players of Manchester United, I will definitely try to take my chance.
"So, yeah, we are not still all here, but the ones that are here, we are trying to enjoy it as much as we can."