Juan Mata has explained that he didn’t choose to be No. 8 because he wanted to avoid the pressures of being Manchester United’s new No. 7 and insisted it was merely down to a preference.
The 25-year-old was widely tipped to be become the new United No. 7, a shirt that hasn’t had an adequate replacement since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
However, he instead chose to take the No. 8 left vacant by Anderson after talking about his options with David Moyes.
He said: “I think No. 8 is a great number. I know that seven is an iconic number here and I spoke to David [Moyes] about it but we decided eight was the number for me.”
Maybe Mata is inclined to agree with the Chinese and holds No. 8 as his lucky number but whether Mata took the No. 84 or No. 8, the pressures and expectation on his performances would have remained the same.
There is every chance that Moyes didn’t want to increase the expectation on Mata’s shoulders with the No. 7 shirt but either way, Mata has insisted it was down a personal preference.
It would have been good for United fans to have a new No. 7 to look up to as, given that Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen have been the last two holders of the shirt, it’s charm has been slightly diminished in recent years.
Of course, there’s one good thing about Mata not becoming No. 7 – it leaves it free for when Cristiano Ronaldo returns in the summer.