Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has described Juan Mata’s time at the club as “very good”.
Mourinho, as Chelsea boss, sold Mata to United in 2014 because the Spain midfielder did not fit the manager’s plans.
But Mata has been in good form, scoring in United’s 4-1 win against Leicester on Saturday, and Mourinho is keen to keep him this time.
“The football I want to play and the profile at Manchester United and what I want to do in this club is completely different situation,” Mourinho said in a press conference on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash with Zorya.
“In my project at Chelsea he was a good player. In my project at Manchester United he is a very good player.
“There are big differences. At Manchester United I have no players to play transitional football.
“We are trying to play in a different way. It is very adapted to his qualities. He has found a natural habitat for his football.”
Mourinho refused to say whether captain Wayne Rooney would start on Thursday after the forward missed training on Tuesday with a back problem.
“I want to protect him. If he is not totally ready he won’t start,” Mourinho said.
The United boss said Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start the match however.
When asked about Sam Allardyce’s situation, Mourinho said:
“I like Sam. I feel sorry. I know it was his dream job. I like him and respect him.
“What happened is not going to interfere in any way with my relationship with him. It is between him and the FA.”
Allardyce lost his position as England manager on Tuesday night after he was caught in a sting operation making promises to circumvent FA laws for profit.