Juan Mata explains why Michael Carrick is so important to Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Juan Mata has paid tribute to captain Michael Carrick following the Englishman’s recovery from a heart problem that has reduced him to just one game so far this season.

The 36-year-old was named captain ahead of the 2017/18 campaign and made his first appearance against Burton Albion back in September, but hasn’t played since.

He revealed last week that he had to undergo a cardiac ablation soon after the game, which essentially removes faulty pathways from the heart to areas that could, at worst, lead to cardiac arrest.

And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, has hailed the midfielder for making a full recovery ahead of a busy December period.

“I want to dedicate a few lines to Michael Carrick, a great teammate who has gone through a few complicated weeks and now he’s ready to help the team again from the pitch,” he said.

“We are very happy for that. He’s a great professional and his behaviour is an example to us. I’m sure that his elegant football will help us a lot during the rest of the season.”

The frenzy that stemmed from injuries to Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, followed by the return of Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has somewhat backgrounded Carrick’s absence from the side, even though the lack of details given on his condition, in hindsight, ought to have told us something was up.

Either way, nobody could have imagined the personal battle Carrick would have gone through over the last couple of months.

A ankle, knee or groin can easily heal with time, but the heart is a far more serious, delicate, and potentially irreversible matter with the capacity to impact on other areas of life aside from football, and supporters can only be thankful to see him push through.

His return to United’s midfield promises to be salutary. Mourinho’s men will always benefit from having Carrick, their longest serving player, keeping everything ticking at the base of midfield – especially during a notoriously sapping, ferocious Christmas period.

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