Manchester United's record signing Juan Mata has lavished extensive praise on David De Gea and insisted the Spanish stopper has an unnerving calm that will help him become one of the world's best goalkeepers.
De Gea proved to be a rare shining light in United's worst domestic campaign since 1990, winning the club's player of the year award and producing a string of fine individual performances that persuaded Spain boss Vicente del Bosque to give the 23-year-old a World Cup call yesterday.
Mata has backed that decision and shared that his countrymen has been a massive help in making the transition to life in Manchester following his £37.1m January move from Chelsea, telling the Guardian that he shares some qualities in terms of focus and manner that are comparable to Lionel Messi.
He said: "He has huge faith in himself, which is a really important virtue. He doesn't let anything affect him. It's a great quality. He's very calm. At times it seems almost like it's unconscious but that's a good thing.
"I've spoken to friends from Asturias about this and they say: 'bloody hell, it's as if [Leo] Messi doesn't care about anything, it's like he's just not bothered.' He scores goals and acts as if it's normal. But maybe that's a good thing.
"It really helped that David De Gea was here. We had played together in the Spanish Under-21s. That makes a real difference for me ... and for him. It's a two-way street. I'm happy he's here ... and in fact, he has been one of the best players in the team too. He's happy that I am here too. We live very close together, we spend a lot of time together."
United's playmaker supreme also earned a call into Del Bosque's preliminary 30-man squad for this summer's finals, although his place in the final 23 remains very much up for debate.
Red Devils fans will hope that the budding friendship continues to blossom at Old Trafford next season, with both men absolutely integral to United's long-term fortunes regardless of who is eventually appointed manager.
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