Manchester United’s Juan Mata admits competition for places is high at the club

by Marwan Harraz

Manchester United’s Juan Mata has admitted that there is a lot of competition for places in the club’s starting eleven.

The Spaniard already faced stiff competition from the club’s current set of players but the addition of Alexis Sanchez in the January transfer window has seen the stakes get even higher.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s departure may have alleviated it a little bit but Mata’s place in the starting XI isn’t as secure as it once was.

Jose Mourinho’s love for natural wingers also adds to the former Valencia man’s woes as he attempts to become a key cog in United’s side.

The attacking midfielder though welcomed his new teammate as well as the challenge Sanchez brings and pointed to his versatility as one of his strengths.

According to Manchester Evening News, Juan said to Sky Sports: “Alexis is a great player and it’s fantastic news for us to have him with us. Competition is high. In a team like Manchester United there will always be some kind of competition for places.

“Over the years, I have been playing in different positions. Since Valencia as a left winger and then I moved when playing for Chelsea as kind of No 10.

“Since I came to United I am playing mostly in the right, but I am trying to adapt myself to different positions and try to give my football for the benefit of the team and that’s what I enjoy doing.

“Goals have always been part of my game and this season I haven’t scored as many as I would like but I’m doing assists and having the chances and I think that’s important as goals will come.”

Along with Alexis, Juan Mata faces competition from the likes of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and occasionally Ashley Young.

With Jose Mourinho also switching to a three man midfield of late, the competition for spaces on the wings has been narrowed down to two.

The Red Devils’ Chilean star is almost always guaranteed to start, leaving Lingard, Mata, Martial and Rashford to all compete for one spot.

Jesse’s versatility helps him as he’s occasionally been dropped into central midfield but it’s unlikely any of the other players will get an opportunity to perform there.

Juan though will have to ensure he’s in the form of his life to get the match time that he’ll certainly be craving as he aims to once and for all win over his manager.

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