Ander Herrera has delivered a touching message to Juan Mata after the latter announced he was to leave Manchester United.
Mata became the third Red Devil to have his Old Trafford departure officially confirmed this week. following similar updates on Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. The cultured Spanish midfielder spent eight years at Old Trafford, having signed from Chelsea in January 2014.
During that time, the 34-year-old played under three permanent coaches at United and leaves having made 285 appearances and winning three major honours, including the club’s most recent – the Europa League in 2017. Having spent the last season as a peripheral member of the squad, there was little surprise when news emerged that he wasn’t to renew his contract – despite planned talks with new boss Erik ten Hag.
Although his time coincided with United’s barren years, Mata will be remembered fondly by supporters and players alike, with Herrera paying special tribute to his compatriot and close friend. Hererra, Mata and fellow Spaniard David de Gea built a close bond during their time together, earning the trio the nickname of the Three Amigos.
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder posted on social media: “You told me that I was never going to regret signing for United, and you were right. We spent five amazing years together and now you are leaving as a legend. Still we have representation of the three amigos @d_degeaofficial I love you both.”
Herrera arrived at Old Trafford just months after his close friend and earned similarly cult status for his all-action performances. He was allowed to leave in the summer of 2019, but has spoken in glowing terms about not only the club, but former chief executive Ed Woodward, who he ultimately failed to come to an agreement with.
“My intention was not to leave the club and I was happy there – as happy as I am now here,” Herrera told the Telegraph in 2020. “It was not a secret. I was negotiating for more than one year but I expected more from the board after my third season at the club when I was player of the year.
“They didn’t come to me that summer, they didn’t even call me. And that was very painful for me because I had a feeling that I was giving everything.
“In saying that I have a huge respect for Ed Woodward, a huge respect for the board. They have always treated me fantastically. “I know they want the best for Manchester United but in football, in life and in every company in the world sometimes you don’t think the same way and I respect that.
He added: “If I see Ed I will give him a hug. We just had different opinions about Manchester United and, in my opinion, what the club should have done. I want to make sure everyone understands there is nothing personal at all. That’s life. But it’s true – after the third season when I was player of the year, when I had the respect and the love from the fans, I didn’t feel that love from the club.”