Manchester United have triggered a clause in Juan Mata’s contract, extending his stay at Old Trafford by an extra year until June 2019.
Mata’s deal was due to expire at end of the season, but the Red Devils have opted to activate their option to prolong his stay by a further 12 months.
And United boss Jose Mourinho, who sold Mata to United from Chelsea in January 2014, talked up the attacking midfielder’s importance to his plans.
“Mata is very important. When I arrived one-and-a-half years ago, [they said], ‘Mata is in trouble, in trouble, in trouble’, and now he’s getting an extension of one more year,” Mourinho told a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Wembley to face Tottenham.
“An important player for me; important player for the club; important player for the other players.”
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez at Old Trafford from Arsenal has led to rumours that Mata could return to former club Valencia, or join Inter.
But Mata spoke of his desire to remain a United player.
“I still feel very happy and very proud to be part of this club,” he told MUTV. “I think everyone that belongs to Manchester United should feel privileged, and that’s how I feel.
“I’m happy with everyone at the club and, obviously, with the manager and my team-mates. Once you are part of this club, your football career is not the same; it changes, because this is one of the biggest clubs in football history.
“Every day I try to tell myself how lucky and how privileged I am, try to take advantage of every single training session, and try to see how important it is to be a Manchester United player.
“At eight, 10, 12 years old, I never imagined that I would play for such a club. I remember the big players – [Paul] Scholes, [Ryan] Giggs, [David] Beckham, [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy, [Rio] Ferdinand, [Nemanja] Vidic – and it felt so far from where I was playing, but now I’m here it’s a special feeling.”
Since arriving from Stamford Bridge, Mata has scored 39 goals in 172 appearances for United, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League during his time in Manchester.