Mata has been deployed primarily on the right wing for Man United, both towards the back end of last season and the start of this campaign. The Spaniard has made the position his own and has thrived there, becoming one of United’s most consistent players since he joined the club.
Many feel that Mata’s best position is in the number 10 role, where Wayne Rooney tends to play for United. However, van Gaal seems to like the work the 27-year-old does out on the right wing and Mata has repaid his manager’s faith with some tremendous displays.
Mata told Inside United that he is happy with where he is playing: “I used to be a striker, then I played as a no.10, then at Valencia I was a left winger and at Chelsea I was in midfield. I am very happy with where I’m playing right now.”
The Spain international has been involved in more goals from open play than any other midfielder in the league since he joined United but admitted that scoring the goals himself is what he enjoys the most.
“It doesn’t matter where you play you have to try to help the team, but obviously the best feeling in football is to score goals. I remember when I was 10/11 years old scoring a lot of goals – it was a great feeling to be a striker.”
Wherever Mata plays, he seems to give his all for the team. Despite lacking extreme pace, the ex-Chelsea man has taken well to the right-wing slot and is starting to build up a good understanding with the likes of Matteo Darmian and Anthony Martial.
Mata will want to keep his place in the side with some key games coming up against the likes of Everton and Manchester City. He has been in good form recently and if he continues playing the way he ha, he could be one of the first names on van Gaal’s team-sheet.