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Man Utd news: Juan Mata opens up on heartbreaking ‘worst year’ of his life | Football | Sport


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Manchester United star Juan Mata has opened up on the ‘most difficult’ year of his life following the death of his mother in March 2021. The midfielder scarcely featured for the Red Devils in 2020-21 as trips to spend time with family in Spain took priority. 

Mata has paid tribute to the sacrifices his mother made as he grew up in Spain with his sister Julia. The 33-year-old has admitted that it made last year the most difficult of his life.  

However, Mata decided to sign a one-year contract extension with United in the summer, despite playing in just nine Premier League games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He has revealed he penned a new deal to play in front of the Old Trafford crowd, who had returned to games following COVID-19 restrictions. 

The Spanish international said in an interview: “Last season was the most difficult of my life, because of all the circumstances my family and I experienced with my mum. Many trips to Spain, many very difficult moments. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to stay in Manchester another year, to be able to experience a full season without empty stands. 

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“But unfortunately, I have not been able to participate in everything I would have liked. It also has a bit to do with the situation that the club is going through. These years have not been and are not being the best time in their history, with changes in coaches, playing styles… That affects not only me, but all players.”

Interim boss Ralf Rangnick has used Mata on two occasions. First in his second game, the 1-1 Champions League draw with Young Boys, and then in the shock FA Cup defeat by Middlesbrough.  

The German, who will likely step aside from his role in the summer, insists Mata can still play a role before the end of the season, but warns he faces tough competition.  

“He’s very popular in our group. I think everybody likes Juan a lot and he can still play on this level but it’s a question of competition.  

“We have quite a few players for those midfield places and I will have to choose between five and six players for tomorrow’s game.”

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