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24th Jul 2016

Juan Mata more than holds his own against a freestyler at the United kit launch

Taking no nonsense

Matt Tate

We have absolutely no idea where Juan Mata will be playing his football next season, but the silky Spaniard seemed to be in a good mood at Manchester United’s kit launch.

After what seemed like an endless stream of accidental and no-so-accidental leaks, the Red Devils finally unveiled the strip they’ll be wearing at Old Trafford next season, as Jose Mourinho begins his quest to take both himself and his new club back to the top of the Premier League tree.

Here’s that home shirt again, in case you missed it.

Most of the United squad were in attendance, including Mata, who went off against a freestyler on stage. As you can probably imagine, the professional trickster had all the skills, but Mata wasn’t about to be showed up in front of the cameras.

The Manchester Evening News’s Rob Dawson managed to capture a short back-and-forth clip on camera.

Whether or not Mata will be doing the business on the pitch next season for United is still up for debate. It’s difficult to ignore the awkward history between player and manager – Mourinho was the one to sell the former Player of the Year to Manchester United in the first place – and fans were worried when their midfield star was left out the first XI in a pre-season friendly against Wigan.

However, the new man in charge at Old Trafford recently said in a Q&A with The Independent that Mata’s Stamford Bridge exit had been his own decision, rather than a pushing from Mourinho.

“I sold because he asked for that. Nobody in my previous club wanted to sell or push him,” he told the online newspaper.

“He wanted to leave and my philosophy is I don’t want players that want to leave. I want players that want to come and want to stay. But I think since the first day everything is clear between us. There is space for him. He’s a talented player and I don’t promise places to anyone. I promise respect and I like him so if he wants to stay and I think he wants – until this moment I don’t have one little sign that he wanted to leave – so he wants to stay and yes there is space for him and yes I think he can be useful to the club.”

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