Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata feels he's entering the "perfect age" in his career, one that will help him finally achieve sustained success at Old Trafford and a recall to the Spanish national side.
Mata has only played twice for La Roja since making a £37.1 million move to Old Trafford last January, which meant despite scoring a terrific brace against Liverpool his omission from Vicente del Bosque's squad for matches against Ukraine and Holland was far from a surprise.
The 26-year-old believes he's got what it takes to earn a recall though, insisting in the latest entry in his weekly blog that he's about to enter the peak of his powers with club and hopefully country over the next few years.
Mata remains ever the optimist
During a trip back home to Asturias in Northern Spain the playmaker wrote: "Many of you are asking me these days about the Spanish national team. As I always say, I have been very lucky to play and to win a World Cup and a Eurocup, to participate in the most important competitions, but I’m still excited as the first day.
"I am convinced that I’m in a perfect age in my football career and I look forward to keep contributing and achieving more success with my national team. That’s what I work for every day, training and playing to the maximum, trying to do the best I can."
Fierce competition for places
Mata's optimism and desire to improve on 34 caps for his country should be admired and applauded, but Spain have an embarrassment of riches in his preferred attacking midfield position.
Andres Iniesta, Koke, David Silva and Isco all played there in last week's 1-0 win over Ukraine, with Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas waiting to come off the bench.
Mata definitely has his work cut out persuading Del Bosque or a new manager to give him another chance, but after winning United's player of the month award for March perhaps he can use United's end of season fight for a top-four finish as a springboard to do just that.
Man United fans, how impressed are you with Mata's attitude. Is he good enough to drive United into the top four and win his place back for Spain? Let us know in the comment box below!