Jose Mourinho has included Juan Mata in his first Premier League team sheet as Manchester United boss.
Given the pair’s chequered history - Mourinho sold the Spaniard to United while he was Chelsea’s manager, and subbed the playmaker off after bringing him off the bench during last Sunday’s Community Shield - it was widely expected that this could be Mata’s final month at the club.
But Mourinho has surprised us all, including the 28-year-old in Sunday’s game at AFC Bournemouth.
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly both make their Premier League debuts, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is good for a place on the bench.
Paul Pogba misses out as he serves a one-game suspension which he carried over from his final season at Juventus.
Check out United’s starting XI below.
Here’s how fans reacted to Mata’s surprise inclusion.
Fans and media alike were quick to label Mata an outcast after Mourinho’s treatment of his against Leicester, with the playmaker seemingly upset after the Portuguese cited his height as the reason he was subbed off while United led 2-1.
But that’s not the case, according to Mourinho.
“He was very happy that he was my first choice to come on to the pitch in a difficult moment of the game for us after we conceded a goal,” the United manager said, per the Manchester Evening News.
“At that moment Mata was the first player to be called up to play and played 25 minutes. He was really happy with his contribution."
Mourinho has handed the midfielder an opportunity to stake a claim in the starting line-up. Yet cynics will probably say he’s putting him in the shop window.
Does Juan Mata deserve to start for Man United? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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