Juan Mata admits he is not a traditional winger but the Manchester United star insists he ‘really enjoys’ playing on the flank for Louis van Gaal.
Mata has been used in a variety of roles as United have begun their season in inconsistent fashion. The Spaniard has primarily been used as a right-sided attacker but Van Gaal has also used the former Chelsea playmaker in the No.10 role.
As a left-footer playing on the right, Mata often finds himself drifting inside, but the 27-year-old says Van Gaal has instructed him to cut in, leaving space for right-back Matteo Darmian to burst into.
“Obviously I am not a winger,” he told United Review. “If you imagine an old-school winger who is trying to play one-against-one and to cross the ball.
“I try to find my spaces from the right and cut inside and in behind, and try to assist my team-mates.
“I really enjoy it there. I think it’s very important for us to create little triangles on the wings with myself and Matteo and then with the midfield.
“That’s what the manager wants and we can play inside and outside. It’s good for us to be able to create chances for the striker.”
Mata has been shifted around by Van Gaal but his versatility has led to him starting every Premier League match so far. The Spain international, while admitting consistency can be beneficial, says he is happy to be utilised in a variety of roles.
He said: “It helps (to play in one position). You get more used to the players, you get more used to the movement of your team-mates, but I also think it’s good for me and any player to be able to play in different positions, not just on the right or left or as a no.10.
“I have played in those positions a lot in my career but I think I can play in every position offensively in the team and I think that’s good for me to grow as a player.”
Mata also believes the competition for places created by Van Gaal’s new signings is beneficial for United.
“It is tough but I think every player needs that competition to grow as a player,” Mata said. “You must not fall asleep and take your position for granted. The competition helps us a lot.”