Juan Mata talks Wayne Rooney, United’s character and his love of pressure

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Spain midfielder Juan Mata was unveiled as Manchester United’s £37.1M record signing on Monday.

During the press conference Mata spoke on a number of issues, notably his eagerness to link up with Wayne Rooney.

“For me he’s one of the best players in the history of this country. He’s an unbelievable player,” Mata said.

“He’s a striker who can score, assist and come into midfield to take the ball. I will try to connect with him as much as possible and find the gaps in rival defenses. I think that’s my best style of play, to get into positions where I can assist the strikers.”

A midfielder who was deployed centrally and on the wings for Chelsea, Mata is expected to operate in the central attacking position at United. In the Red Devils’ typical 4-2-3-1 set up, Mata would play just inside Rooney but with Robin van Persie’s improvement in health (he may feature in tomorrow’s match against Cardiff City), David Moyes could roll out all three players in a 4-4-2 so long as Mata is paired with a suitable defensive player in the center of the park.

In addition to his admiration for Rooney, Mata also spoke of his attraction to United’s character and never-say-die attitude.

“What I like most about this club is the character,” said Mata. “I think if another club were in this position in the league, it would be very difficult to come back and take first position, but this club can do it.

“This is the real image I have from Manchester United, always fighting to win titles, always coming back from difficult moments.”

Mata also spoke of his fearlessness at United’s current predicament of being 7th in the league and needing a Top 4 finish.

“I love the pressure,” the 25-year-old said. “When people are suspecting big things from you then it’s a challenge but I am looking forward to being successful. This is a massive club. I’ve realised that since I came here and I’m really glad to be here. This is the club that has won the most trophies and it’s down to me to show people the football I have inside of me.”

Mata arrived at Old Trafford after a 2.5 year stint at Chelsea where he scored 32 goals and made more than 130 appearances, twice being named Chelsea’s player of the year. The Spaniard, who has chosen the No. 8 shirt, is scheduled to make his first appearance for United tomorrow at 2:45pm ET on NBC Live Extra.

Premier League vet Kenwyne Jones retires at age 33

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It wasn’t the season that Kenwyne Jones had expected in his first Major League Soccer season, but the veteran Trinidad & Tobago striker had himself quite the career.

[ MORE: Miguel Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year ]

Jones, 33, announced his retirement on Monday after boasting an extensive career in England prior to finishing up his playing with Atlanta United.

Atlanta opted not to renew Jones’ contract with the club after scoring twice in 17 appearances this season for the expansion side.

The Trinidadian posted the following message to supporters on Twitter this afternoon.

Jones spent nine seasons in the Premier League, including stints with Southampton, Stoke City and Sunderland.

Additionally, the forward played for Al Jazira from UAE in 2016 before moving on loan to Central in his native Trinidad prior to his arrival in Atlanta’s debut MLS season.

Eibar routs Betis 5-0 to snap 8-game winless streak in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed 10-man Real Betis 5-0 in the Spanish league on Monday, ending an eight-match winless streak in all competitions.

Eibar hadn’t won since Sept. 15. It had lost six of its eight matches since then.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke finish level after Izquierdo’s second-half finish ]

The hosts got on the board with an own goal by Betis defender Jordi Amat just six minutes in, and midfielder Gonzalo Escalante scored with a header near halftime.

Striker Charles Dias scored twice in the second half, and Sergi Enrich closed the scoring in front of less than 5,000 fans at Ipurua Stadium.

“We deserved a victory like this to help us regain our confidence,” Enrich said.

Betis played with 10 men from the 55th as Aissa Mandi was red-carded for the foul that prompted a penalty kick converted by Dias.

“It was difficult to recover after we went a man down and they scored the third goal,” Betis midfielder Joaquin Sanchez said.

Eibar remained 17th in the 20-team standings, just outside the relegation zone.

Betis, winless in three matches, dropped to ninth place.

Barcelona leads by four points over second-place Valencia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Pogba believes Man United can win Premier League if squad stays fit

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There’s no doubt that on paper Manchester United has all the workings of a Premier League contender, and Paul Pogba certainly agrees.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke settle for draw in back-and-forth affair ]

The influential midfielder made his return to the Red Devils lineup this weekend in United’s 4-1 beatdown of Newcastle, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.

With Jose Mourinho’s squad finally getting healthy, Pogba believes that the sky is the limit for his side as they look to chase down league leaders and cross-town rivals Manchester City.

“To win the league we need all our players,” Pogba told MUTV. “When you have one injured here, one injured there, it doesn’t help. It’s always better to have a full team.

“Zlatan’s back and Marcos after a long injury. It was hard for them but they kept believing and worked hard to come back. We need them to win the league and we’re really glad they’re here.”

Pogba’s presence was certainly missed in his absence, and he wasted no time in making an impact upon his return, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Magpies.

The French international also spoke about his struggles last season with several minor injuries, but he’s hoping to remain in his United side for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

“Most of last season I had injuries but small ones. You just have to recover well because the Premier League is different to Italy — it’s more intense and you just have to think about recovery, then you have more games. Otherwise, I just feel good, just to come back.

“I’ve trained very hard to come back fit. The season is really long so we have to be fit — not only me but all the players. To come back, to play again, to see Old Trafford, to see the fans again, to score at Old Trafford on my comeback, I feel blessed. But we had to win — that was the most important thing.”

Red Bulls freestyler shows off dribbling skills… on a treadmill (Video)

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Players from around the world display their skills on social media on a regular basis, but they’re usually on a soccer field or blacktop when they do so.

[ MORE: Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year, beats out Nikolic, Martinez ]

This New York Red Bulls freestyler had a different interpretation of how he’d show off his ball control on Monday.

DJ Diveny (@djdiveny on Twitter) posted this video — below — across his social media platforms today dribbling a soccer ball on a treadmill, while his colleagues appear to introduce cones at random points as obstacles.

In addition to his talents as a freestyler, Diveny is also a youth coach with Student Athlete Coaching & Consulting, based out of New Jersey.

Again… he’s on a treadmill while doing this. Pretty cool stuff.

Watch below.