Jose Mourinho says Juan Mata has a place at Manchester United

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Jose Mourinho has warned Manchester United fans they need to have realistic targets as they head into the new Premier League season

Jose Mourinho has said there "is space" for Juan Mata in his Manchester United squad and expects the player to fight for his place.

Mourinho sold Mata to United when manager of Chelsea in January 2014 after the Spaniard fell out of favour at Stamford Bridge.

The United boss said unhappy players will be allowed to leave before the close of the summer transfer window, but Mourinho does not expect Mata to be one of them.

Manager Jose Mourinho of Manchester United congratulates Juan Mata
Image: Mourinho (right) says Juan Mata is happy at Man United and ready to fight for his place

"He's here and he works hard," Mourinho said. "He knows that I know he is a good player and he has space in the squad.

"Until August 31 the market is open for every one of my players that is not happy, but to be fair I think he is [happy].

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"I think he is happy and I am not expecting him to ask to leave. I am expecting him to do what he is doing now, which is to fight for a place.

"In the end there will be space for everyone, we have 38 matches in the Premier League, we expect to play a lot of them in the Europa League and domestic cups so in a squad of, let's say, 22 players, there will be a space for everyone. So, yes, there is a space for Juan."

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Image: Jose Mourinho sold Mata (right) to Man United in January 2014

Mata had won back-to-back Chelsea Player of the Year awards in 2012 and 2013 prior to being sold, but Mourinho said he did not force the Spain international out of the club.

"First of all, I think maybe all of you misunderstood what happened in our previous club because I never told Mata to leave," he added. "I never pressed the club to sell him.

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"It was his decision and only his decision, and I don't like players that want to leave.

"That's why I think every player has a price because if one day a player wants to leave it is because he does not want to be with us.

"If the player doesn't want to be with us, goodbye - be happy where you want to go. Juan at our previous club was not so happy because he was not my first choice at that time. He wanted to play every game.

Image: Mata (right) made 13 Premier League appearances during the 2013/14 season before he was sold

"He had a fantastic offer from a big club like Man United, he wanted to leave. My previous club had a great offer, we thought that was financially very much acceptable.

"We were not with this old-fashioned idea of, 'I don't sell players to my direct competitors inside of my own country'.

"We sold him to Man United and done. Nothing else."

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