Mata seeks 'double bonus' of silverware and Champions League place

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is excited
by the prospect of securing a "double bonus"
against Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday – a piece
of silverware and a direct route back into the
glamour of the Champions League.
The Dutch giants stand in the way of Jose
Mourinho's men and a place in club football's elite
competition, with the winners of the Europa League
final guaranteed a spot in next season's
Champions League.
United fell short of qualifying via a top-four
Premier League finish – a 69-point haul leaving
them sixth – meaning the Ajax clash assumes
extra significance, a fact not lost on Mata.
Mata said in quotes reported by the Telegraph:
"The Champions League is the best competition
and it's one this club should be playing in every
"Now we are playing in the Europa League and if
we win it as I did a few years ago [when Chelsea
beat Benfica in 2013], it's a double bonus, as it's a
trophy and a Champions League spot, so it's very
important for us."
United are guaranteed European football next
season regardless of how they fare in Sweden in
midweek after finishing sixth, but Mata is under no
illusions which competition the club should be
aiming to be part of.
He said: "[Either way] we still want to play
European football. Hopefully it is [in the Champions
League on] Tuesday and Wednesdays, instead of
Thursdays [in the Europa League], but if it's
Thursdays we will play Thursdays and it wouldn't
be an excuse not to try to win the title.
"Obviously you don't have as much time for
recovery as you should, and we have lived that this
season. But I think the club and the money [they
have] will help us try to get a bigger squad and
prepare for a different competition."
Mourinho offloaded Mata to United when he was
Chelsea boss, meaning it was inevitable that
speculation of a possible repeat scenario would
arise when the Portuguese arrived at Old Trafford.
But Mata has featured heavily under Mourinho and
has reiterated he is settled at the club.
"Yes, I'm happy here," he said. "I've always said
that since I came here it has not been the greatest
moment in the club's history. It's been a different
approach and a new stage after Alex Ferguson.
We've had a few managers, different players
coming and going, but I feel really happy to be at
this club."

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