In an interesting question and answer interview conducted by Manchester United’s official website, the Spain international revealed that the three-time Ballon d’Or winner left an impression on him when they went head-to-head in La Liga.
That Mata named Ronaldo as the fittest player he has played against will come as no surprise to United fans, but the 26-year-old had a few unexpected answers for some of the other questions.
Mata named Antonio Valencia as both the fittest and fastest player he has ever played with, which might raise a few eyebrows.
The Ecuador international has, however, been singled out for his impressive physical attributes by several of his Manchester United teammates in recent weeks.
Praise for former Barcelona stars
As for the fastest player he has ever played against? That honour went to Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba, who is blessed with blistering pace.
Mata also singled out another Barcelona star, Xavi Hernandez, and no prizes for guessing why.
The Manchester United No. 8 says Xavi is the best passer he has ever played with, along with Bayern Munich and Spain international Xabi Alonso.
Xavi and Alonso were also named by Mata as the best passers he has played against.
Former Barcelona striker David Villa was named by Mata as the best finisher he has ever played with, alongside Manchester United forward Robin van Persie, while Radamel Falcao - his current United teammate - was labelled the best finisher has ever played against.
Juan Mata confident and performing well
Mata is now focused on holding down a regular place in Manchester United’s starting line-up following his tremendous display against Liverpool at Anfield earlier this month.
The former Valencia and Chelsea star scored both goals in what was undoubtedly his best performance since arriving at Old Trafford in January 2014.
Mata will also be hoping to win back his place in the Spain squad ahead of next summer’s European Championships in France.
The technically-gifted playmaker was part of the Spain squads that won both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, but Vicente del Bosque omitted Mata from his latest squad due to his lack of playing time at Old Trafford.
After his remarkable display against Liverpool, however, Mata should become a firm fixture in Louis van Gaal’s starting eleven.
United fans: should Juan Mata start every match for the Red Devils? Have your say in the comments below!
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