Ahead of his first full season as a Red Devil and his second as an adidas athlete, we caught up with Spanish playmaker Juan Mata to talk Predator, Manchester United and the Premier League season ahead.
SB: When you think of the adidas Predator and the history of the boot, what players come to mind?
JM: Well it's such an iconic boot and so many great players come to mind. Xavi and Raul for example, two Spanish legends who wore the Predator throughout their careers. Of course Zinedine Zidane as well who was one of my idols when I was a kid.
SB: How are you enjoying the new Predator Instinct?
JM: The new boots feel very good. What’s important is that they’re very comfortable and they allow me to play my best. As an offensive player my mission is to assist and score goals and they’re very good boots for that. Previously I’ve worn lighter boots but I think these are perfect for me because they allow me to feel the touch of the ball better than any other boot and for my game it’s very important to have good control of the ball.
SB: Do adidas send you prototypes of the boots to test beforehand?
JM: Yes, adidas always give me a prototype so I can train in them, test the fit and get my size perfect. From the first training session, I've been really impressed with the boots. The colour is also a good fit for Manchester United!
SB: How did you find the experience of joining Manchester United as a January transfer?
JM: Joining the club in January was very different and it wasn’t easy because the team was in a bad place and I wasn’t in my best shape. I had to try and adapt to my new team mates quickly. That’s the main difference between signing in January and signing in the summer, but it’s been good for me. The welcome from the fans, from the club and from the players has been amazing so it has been a great experience so far and I’m looking forward to helping the team get back to the level Manchester United should be at.
SB: What Manchester United players have impressed you the most?
JM: Of course I knew a lot about the likes Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie who are two of the best strikers in the world, so it's a pleasure for me to play alongside them. One player that I’ve been really impressed with is a young striker we have in the academy; James Wilson. He scores a lot of goals in training and I think he will be a great player for us in the near future.
SB: Did the size of Manchester United hit you when you joined the club?
JM: Everyone knows how big Manchester United is from outside, but when you get into the club you really realise how big this club is and how many supporters we have around the world, how many marketing staff we have, and how many people there are working in all areas of the club. It’s amazing to be a part of.
SB: How has Louis Van Gaal been to work with over the summer?
JM: He’s been very good. I think we’ve had a strong pre-season, training wise and game wise against some very tough teams like Real Madrid and Liverpool. I think we've played some good football so we are all looking forward to the beginning of the season and the first game against Swansea at Old Trafford. Every manager is different and every manager has their own way of working but we are all very happy with Louis Van Gaal. He likes to play with a lot of attacking width across the pitch and with a lot of passing and moving and triangles. I think it’s a good way to play the game and a way that suits my style of play very well.
SB: You must be excited to have Ander Herrera on board?
JM: I’m very happy Ander has joined Manchester United. Firstly for him because I think it’s a great chance for him to make a great career in football and I’m also very happy for the club and for me because he’s a good friend and a great player to play alongside. I think he can bring a lot of very good things to Manchester United.
SB: How are you finding Manchester life compared to London?
JM: It’s very different! Manchester is a smaller city and it’s more quiet than London but it’s nice as well. You have more time to relax and rest before the games which is good for me.
SB: Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge on April 18th - that must be one you're looking forward to?
JM: It will be special for sure. I spent three great years at Chelsea. The fans treated me very well and I will always be very grateful to them so it will be a special day for me when we play Stamford Bridge this season.
SB: What would be a successful season for Manchester United?
JM: Our goal is of course to win the Premier League but firstly what this club needs is to be in the Champions League, so we will do our best this season to achieve that.
SB: Last question, can you sign a pair of boots for us?
JM: Of course!
Juan Mata was talking to us exclusivley at an @adidasUK photoshoot for the #PredatorInstinct, available now at select adidas stockists including Pro-Direct Soccer.