In an honest and refreshingly self-aware interview, Manchester United’s Juan Mata has admitted he earns an “obscene” amount of money and that he is becoming concerned with the business aspect of football.
Mata started his career at Real Madrid Castilla and moved to Man United in 2014 following stints at Valencia and Chelsea.
The Spaniard revealed his protected lifestyle “scares” him and that he sympathises with match-going fans amid the commercialisation of football.
“I can understand what they [the fans] are referencing,” Mata said.
“In the business of football, it seems the owners are more important than the supporters. It is nothing like the football of old, where there was not such a media involvement or people with so many vested interests.
“I don’t enjoy the business side of football. I love the game, I love training and competing. I’d happily take a pay cut if there was less business involvement in the sport. At this level we’re very well paid, and sometimes you get to thinking that there really isn’t much of a difference between ‘X’ and ‘X+3′.
Mata said he earned a “normal wage” in the world of football, but “compared to 99.9% of Spain and the rest of the world, I earn an obscene amount.”
“Real life is the one my friends live. They’ve had to look for work, sign on to the dole and emigrate. That’s normal life now.
“Football is very well remunerated at this level. It’s like we live in a bubble. With respect to the rest of society, we earn a ridiculous amount. It’s unfathomable. My first professional contract was at Real Madrid Castilla.
“I was 18 years old and I think I earned something like €90,000 a year. My life as a footballer is not normal. It scares me sometimes to think about just how protected I am. The smallest problem and someone will come and fix it for me. That’s one of the aspects in which we don’t live a normal life.”
United have become one of the biggest clubs in the world in the past 25 years or so, largely thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson, and the money has flowed in as a result.
The fees involving transfers, agents and wages have reached alarming levels in recent years but Mata is right in saying that match-going fans have been hit the hardest. Younger fans, in particular, are often priced out of seeing a game at Old Trafford and subsequently forging a relationship with their side. It is something United could, and should, be helping with.