Juan Mata explains why he was an outcast under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea

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Many were left questioning whether Juan Mata would have a future at Manchester United when Jose Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford last summer.

Just two-and-a-half years after being let go by the Portuguese manager at Chelsea and joining the Red Devils, it seemed that, again, his boss could jeopardise his career at a top English club.

Mata arrived at Stamford Bridge two years before Mourinho returned for his second stint at Chelsea, but just seven months after the 'Special One' had returned to west London, the Spain international was sent packing.


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Indeed, a move to United was in no way a bad one for the attacking midfielder who had already proven his worth while donning a Blue shirt. But when Mourinho followed him to the north west of England, the Spaniard surely had some doubts.

And just to add to those fears, Mata was subbed 30 minutes after being introduced in Mourinho's first competitive game in charge, in the Community Shield.

For Mata and United's fans, it wasn't a good sign. But things have certainly proven to be far rosier between the two since, and Mourinho has been left to rue the Spaniard's recent absence through injury.

The Spain midfielder is set to return for the first leg of the Red Devils' crucial Europa League semi-final away to Celta Vigo on Thursday evening - now an important member of Mourinho's side which is looking for a return to Champions League football.

Mata quashes Mourinho issues

It has left questions over what has changed in the relationship between Mata and Mourinho since last summer. However, the former Chelsea man has quashed rumours that there was ever any disharmony between himself and the Portuguese.

"The context, the club, the squad and the way of playing have all changed," Mata told El Pais, per Goal.

"I've never had a bad relationship with him. We've never had a discussion. Our relationship is normal.

"It was simply that, at Chelsea, he wanted to play in a certain way and at United there are other types of players more in accordance with my characteristics. We're both the same, we haven't changed."

Portuguese thankful for Mata's return

Oscar, who left Chelsea for a big-money move to China in January, was previously the man that stood in Mata's way at Stamford Bridge. But the midfielder is not threatened by the same problem with Mourinho at United.

And Mata could still have a big part to play - despite his return from injury so late in the season - with United facing a congested final month of the campaign which includes four of their remaining six fixtures taking place in the next 11 days and potentially the Europa League final.

Far from the situation that the Spaniard faced at Chelsea, Mourinho will be desperate to call upon Mata's valuable experience over the next few weeks.

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Paul Pogba

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