Juan Mata has posted an emotional video message to Manchester United fans after confirming his exit from the club.
The Spanish playmaker joined United in January 2014 from Chelsea in a £37.1million deal – a then-record for the club. Mata amassed 285 first-team appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 51 goals and winning four trophies including the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League.
Despite not winning the Premier League title during his stint at Old Trafford and being part of a squad that frequently fell far short of expectation, Mata remained a hugely popular figure within the club and amongst the fanbase.
Mata enjoyed stints at Valencia and Chelsea prior to his move to United while he also scored 10 goals for Spain across 41 international caps. In August 2017, the Spaniard announced that he was donating one per cent of his salary to a pledge-based charitable movement named Common Goal, and called for other football players to do the same.
The playmaker has now confirmed his exit from United at the end of his current contract – joining Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani, Nemanja Matic and Lee Grant. Mata was the third longest-serving player at the club behind Phil Jones and David de Gea, having been signed under David Moyes.
Despite the general underperformance of United over the years, Mata enjoyed many memorable moments for the club – and netted the equalising goal in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace, which Louis van Gaal’s side won 2-1 after extra time.
Mata posted a video via Twitter with the message, accompanied by footage of his best moments for the club: “It has taken me some time to process the change that is happening in my life and this is a message that for many moments over the last years I never thought I would be writing.
“But, of course, all good things come to an end and my time as a Manchester United player has just finished. It would be impossible for me to express through this text all the feelings that I have been experiencing over the last weeks but to sum it up, I would like to say that I am the proudest man in the world for having represented this unique club for the last eight and a half seasons.
“It is something that I would never have dreamed of when I was little as it felt too distant for a kid in Spain to one day play for one of the best clubs in the history of football. But sometimes, reality exceeds dreams.”
Mata continued: “As I am writing these lines today, I could not be more grateful for what my career has brought to me so far and I am as excited as that little kid about what the future might bring from now on. The same passion for playing football as that kid remains inside of me.
“It goes without saying that I want to thank every staff member that works in the club and that makes it so special – every manager, and every teammate that I have crossed paths with during my time in Manchester.
“We haven’t experienced the best period in the history of the club but we did have some amazing memories along the way in the form of trophies and special moments together that will stay forever in my mind.”
The Spaniard then sent a special message specifically to the club’s fans: ‘Thank you all, I will miss you. For you, our supporters, I don’t really find words to describe how grateful I am and how special you have made me feel. I feel very loved and this is something for which me and my family will never be thankful enough.
“Manchester is and will always be a special part of my life, on and off the pitch, and I really feel like an adopted Mancunian. Living here and understanding what it means to be part of this singular place in the world and its culture is something truly special. I feel that I belong here.
“I wish nothing but the best to the club and the new manager, and I really hope this is the start of a new era full of great football, trophies and enjoyment for you, the fans. Nothing more than what you deserve and nothing less than what this football club should be about.
“This is not a goodbye, but a see you soon. I will keep coming to Manchester whenever I can. But for now, from the bottom of my heart, thank you very much for letting me be part of your history. I am truly honoured and proud, and I will always be one of you.”