Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has revealed that similar philosophies for both football and life have helped him and countrymen Ander Herrera strike up an almost telepathic understanding on the pitch.
Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal has taken his sweet time to appreciate the quality of his Spanish playmakers, but Mata and Herrera have both risen to the challenge of fighting for a place in his starting XI.
Both men have have bagged braces in the last fortnight to help United sit pretty inside the Champions League qualification places, with Mata revealing that he's enjoying playing alongside a "qualtiy" player in Herrera that can pick him out at will if given time and space.
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Mata has turned a corner
In an interview with MUTV, cited by The Mirror, Mata was asked about his blossoming partnership with Herrera and had plenty of positive things to say about the former Athletic Bilbao star.
Mata said: "I think it’s because of the relationship we’ve had over the years and because we understand football and life in more or less the same way.
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Herrera is now a firm fan favourite at Old Trafford
"I think we play well together because we understand each other and sometimes without speaking or looking we know where we're going to pass or where we're going to move on the pitch.”
"The first goal at Anfield is a good example of that - he controlled the ball, turned and knew where I was already running to and he put the ball there.
“Ander is a quality player and I’m very happy he’s here and playing and performing well.”
Herrera's well-taken double against Aston Villa plus Mata's magic brace at Anfield have been highlights of United's five-match winning streak, one that has lifted the Red Devils to third in the Premier League table.
The once-snubbed Spanish duo are now shoe-ins to start against Manchester City in Sunday's derby at the Etihad, one that represents a wonderful opportunity for Van Gaal's side to all-but confirm this season's minimum target of finishing in the top four has been reached.
Man United fans, do you think Van Gaal should build his side for next season around Herrera and Mata after their performances over the last few weeks? Let us know your thoughts on the pair of pass masters in the comment box below!
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