David De Gea has posted a heartfelt tribute to Juan Mata after it was confirmed the midfielder would leave Manchester United after eight years this summer.
The ex-Spain international arrived at the club in 2014 and was one of the key figures on the pitch of the post-Alex Ferguson era at Old Trafford.
The veteran moves on now in search of further game-time however, following Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard through the door – and now goalkeeper De Gea has reflected on his time alongside the playmaker in emotional terms.
De Gea wrote in a lengthy Instagram post:
Thought this would be a very difficult one to express into words but when I thought about it more, the main feeling I am left with is happiness.
This guy has been a teammate, a friend and is my family. The ultimate professional, one of the best players and people you could have grace your life. I’m so thankful to have been on so many journeys with you, happy that our paths crossed, and we shared a dressing room together.
I love you my brother, I wish you everything and absolutely nothing but joy and success in your next stage of an unbelievable career.
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Mata was a Champions League winner with Chelsea and World Cup and European Championship victor with Spain before his arrival at Old Trafford, Mata landed at the Theatre of Dreams as David Moyes’ flagship mid-season purchase in January 2014.
During his time with United, he made 285 appearances across all competitions, and played in all three major silverware triumphs of his tenure – the 2016 FA Cup Final under Louis van Gaal and the 2017 EFL Cup and Europa League triumphs under Jose Mourinho.
He cut an increasingly peripheral figure under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and successor Ralf Rangnick however, playing just 30 times across the past two seasons combined.