Juan Mata spoke to the media for the first time on Monday since his 45-million-euro move to Manchester United from Chelsea.
With the World Cup looming large 25-year-old Mata, who has reportedly signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Premier League champions, said getting regular playing time was crucial to his hopes of making Spain’s squad for Brazil this summer.
“As you know the Spanish squad is really difficult to get in,’‘ explained Mata.
“Lots of players are fighting to be in the last 23 going to Brazil so I hope this is going to be a great chance for me to keep playing, to keep being fit and to keep showing to the manager of the national team that I want to be there and I have to be there,” he added.
The Spain international, who will wear the number 8 shirt, was voted Chelsea’s best player for the past two seasons, but under new boss Jose Mourinho became surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.
Mata said: ‘‘To be honest the first two seasons at Chelsea were amazing, I settled down so quickly, the fans were unbelievable for me, the club, everything. The last six months were difficult because I didn’t play as much as I wanted but I respect that.’‘
He will definitely get more playing time at United.
His first match as a Red Devil is likely to be Tuesday’s Premier League game against Cardiff at Old Trafford where he could even line up with Wayne Rooney who along with Robin van Persie and Marouane Fellaini was back in training on Monday after a spell on the club’s injury list.
“I can’t wait to play alongside him,” Mata said of England international and new teammate Rooney.
“For me he’s one of the best players in the history of this country. He’s a striker who can score, assist and come into midfield to take the ball. I will enjoy it.
“For me he’s an unbelievable player and I will try to connect with him as much as possible and find the gaps in rival defences. I think that’s my best style of play, to get into positions where I can assist the strikers.”
The signing of the talented playmaker should be the perfect tonic for a struggling United side, whose poor first half of the season has left them in seventh place 14 points off leaders Arsenal.
Video: Juan Mata on the ball – a glimpse of what United fans can look forward to