Mata wants to match Giggs, play into 40s

Manchester United’s Spanish midfielder Juan Mata warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF

Juan Mata wants to follow in the footsteps of Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and play into his forties at Old Trafford.

Manager Jose Mourinho’s arrival in 2016 sparked talk that the 29-year-old could be surplus to requirements because the Portuguese had let him leave Chelsea in January 2014.

However, the Spanish playmaker has become an influential figure under Mourinho, whose side are second in the Premier League table.

Mata’s contract at United runs out at the end of the season. The club hold the option to add a further year and the Spain international is open to discussing a longer stay.

Asked if he can see himself finishing his career at United, Mata told ESPN FC: “Why not? I’m 29 and hopefully I can play football for some more years.

“It would be great to play until I’m 40 like Ryan Giggs. But that’s still a bit far, still 11 years.

“I’m happy here. The club is massive, the support we have is massive. I’ve been settled down in the city since year one. Now it’s my fourth year in Manchester.”

Mata launched his Common Goal project earlier this year that aims to encourage footballers to pledge at least one per cent of their wages to charity.

“I would like to be associated with football somehow,” said Mata, referring to his post-playing career.

“I like the Common Goal initiative, the vision of football as a tool for social change and the power football has to improve the world.

“It might be in that direction and I think I would really enjoy it. I don’t know yet. I have time to think about it.”



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