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Juan Mata pays David de Gea tribute after landmark appearance

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Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has paid tribute to club and international team-mate David De Gea after making his 100th appearance for the Old Trafford outfit, claiming his fellow Spaniard is among the most skilled goalkeepers he's ever seen.

Posting on his weekly blog 'One hour behind' the £37.1 million signing praised his compatriot after the Red Devils overcame West Ham United 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.

The win represented the club's second victory of the 2014/15 campaign and lifts Louis van Gaal's side up to seventh in the table with eight points from their opening six games.

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Mata remained an unused substitute for the encounter, so the match is unlikely to live long in the former Chelsea star's memory, but it was memorable for a number of reasons including the landmark for the Spanish stopper.

Juan Mata quote:

"It was a special day for David de Gea, who has reached 100 Premier League games," he explained. "He is one of the most skilled goalkeepers I've ever seen so I know you will play many more than 100, my friend.

"It was also unforgettable for Paddy McNair. Making a debut with Manchester United in Old Trafford being just 19 is amazing, and I am sure he will always remember this day."

As the Spanish playmaker mentioned, Van Gaal handed debuts to a number of players with £27 million summer signing Luke Shaw joining the aforementioned McNair in a new-look Manchester United defence.

Memorable day

Fellow academy graduate Tom Thorpe was also given a brief cameo when he replaced the former Southampton left-back in the final stages of Saturday's victory, becoming the 13th player to make his first appearance for the club during the brief Van Gaal era.

It's the first time that many Red Devils debutants have featured in the same season for more than 80 years, and that number is likely to increase again if, as expected, Van Gaal re-enters the transfer market in January for further reinforcements.

Mata is one player that appears to have fallen down the first-team pecking order behind new arrivals like Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao and could potentially leave Old Trafford in the New Year if regular action remains difficult to come by.

Focus

However, for now it's clear that the player is focused on improving his form - both individually and collectively - over the coming months, as Manchester United attempt to close the gap on leaders Chelsea after a slow start to the new season.

"Our goal now is to become more consistent and to keep working on our football style to add more points," he explained. "We are already thinking about the match against Everton next Sunday.

"The team aims to keep growing throughout the entire season and we are sticking together to achieve that."

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Topics:
Football
David de Gea
Manchester United
Premier League
Juan Mata

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