Juan Mata blast Mourinho over his axing from Chelsea
Juan Mata has issued a defiant riposte to his former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's decision to axe him from Stamford Bridge, insisting his performances prove he is more than a "luxury player".
Mata was sold by Mourinho to United in January 2014, when David Moyes was in charge at Old Trafford, after falling out of favour in west London.
Mourinho was not convinced by Mata's work ethic or ability to play in his preferred system. In Sep 2013, he issued a veiled criticism of his performances when contrasting him to his preferred No10, Oscar.
He said: "It is one thing to play with Ramires and Oscar closing down opponents on each side, and Mata as a No10 behind a striker with his clever assists, clever passes and fantastic actions because he has great talent.
"But it is another thing to adapt to the way we want to play. In this moment, Oscar is my No10 and, if anyone tells me Oscar has not been Chelsea's best player this season, I'd have to disagree. I have to prove to the fans that I am good. Now [Mata] must do the same."
Mata was sold four months later - despite being voted Chelsea's player of the year the previous season - but he has issued his own verdict on Mourinho's comments in an interview with The Times today.
He said: "If a luxury player is a player who scores and assists and has good stats, then I'm happy to be a luxury player.
"I want luxury players in my team. I like creative players and players who do different things. It's easy to say certain players are luxuries, especially when you've lost a game.
"When you lose a certain kind of player - the creative players - always get the blame.
"I've scored as many goals for Manchester United in the Premier League as for Chelsea, but in something like 30 games less.
"In terms of scoring and assisting and I'm quite happy with the states, and stats don't lie. They are facts."
Mata also delivered a glowing appraisal of Louis van Gaal's methods at United, revealing that good performances in training are rewarded with a "hug and kiss" from the manager.
He said: "I really value his honesty. When someone does something in training that he really likes, he goes over to hug and kiss them - he really does it. Or he says in front of everyone: 'You are the best in training, I'm really proud of how you played,' to set a a good example to others.
"Van Gaal is how you see him in the press conferences, he's like that with us too. He's honest and straightforward. He believes in his style of training and way of preparing for games. He's won trophies everywhere he's been and hopefully this season now we know him better we'll win something too."