Juan Mata hails Rafael Benitez

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Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has hailed his former Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez, who was appointed head coach of Real Madrid earlier this summer.

Mata, 27, worked under Benitez at Stamford Bridge during the 2012-13 campaign and scored 20 goals in 64 appearances for the west London outfit.

Despite winning Chelsea’s Player of the Year award in both of his full seasons at the Bridge, Mata was sold by Jose Mourinho in January 2014 after failing to convince the revered Portuguese coach.

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Mata listed the managers that have played an important role in his career and failed to mention Mourinho, but heaped praise on Benitez.

“I had him at Chelsea and we won the Europa League,” he told Spanish newspaper Marca. “It was a great campaign, my best in terms of statistics. Benítez knows how to get the most out of every player and get them performing to their best.”

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He added: “I try to take something positive from every manager. Some more than others.

“Ronald Koeman gave me the opportunity to play regularly, Benítez was key for me, Vicente Del Bosque gave me my debut, André Villas-Boas signed me for the Premier League and David Moyes showed a lot of faith in me by going in to sign me.”

Mata admits price tag can be "overwhelming"

Mata ended his first campaign under Louis van Gaal with 10 goals in 35 matches and played an increasingly important role for United as the season progressed.

He admits to sometimes feeling “overwhelmed” by his £37.1 million price tag - but insists he feels proud Manchester United agreed to pay Chelsea such a large fee for his services.

“If it takes up too much thinking time, it can be overwhelming, but I try to wear the tag with pride and responsibility,” Mata added. “It's unusual for a big team to pay that much in the middle of the season together with a long contract.”

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La Liga
Premier League
Juan Mata
Real Madrid
Manchester United

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