“He’s an intelligent footballer and has a big influence in the Man Utd dressing room”

Photo: Getty images

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand hae hailed Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata as an intelligent footballer with a big influence in the Manchester United dressing room.

Mata doesn’t play regularly for Manchester United these days but Ferdinand insists he has a big role to play in the team off the pitch.

Speaking about the current role Juan Mata holds in the Man United squad, Rio Ferdinand said in his Vibe with Five show: “At the same time, Juan Mata does get minutes.

“He is a squad player, he played 18 games last season. He still plays games. He still comes on and plays games and he takes part.

“Would you want more from someone that comes into your squad sometimes? Sometimes, yes. But he is not the Juan Mata of before, obviously he is a bit older.

“He is not as potent as he once was. He comes in and plays a little bit more as a conductor and someone who just keeps the ball and maintains possession more than anything.

“That coaching element he can see within him. He is an intelligent footballer, an intelligent guy off the pitch and a great squad member, I must add.

“There is more sometimes just more to keeping people around for just what they can do on the pitch at times. Sometimes there are players who may offer a bit more elsewhere at times. It is not just all about how they can play on the pitch.

“Some people have a big influence on that changing room and can influence others, and I think Juan Mata is one of those guys.”

Mata signed a one-year extension with the Red Devils earlier this summer.

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