The Manchester United and Spain player talks about his Common Goal project, which wants to see 1% of football’s entire industry donated to charity, his relationship with José Mourinho and the death of his grandfather
Ninety minutes with Juan Mata is a time full of space and light. It’s a little like watching him play football, where his intelligence and vision are obvious, but Mata also arrives at a small hotel in Altrincham with a minimum of fuss. He is alone, without an agent or a sponsor, and interested in a detailed conversation rather than a routine interview.
The importance of space becomes even clearer when we turn to Saturday’s visit of Mata and Manchester United to Anfield. Second in the table, just behind Manchester City on goal difference after both clubs have won six and drawn one of their opening seven Premier League games, United face their first real test against a bitter rival in Liverpool. Mata has prospered before at Anfield, most notably when scoring both goals, including an acrobatic volley during a 2-1 defeat of Liverpool in 2015. It was a volatile afternoon marked by Steven Gerrard being sent off for a stamp 38 seconds after coming on as a substitute.