Juan Mata was in fine form for Manchester United in midweek – but his talent on the pitch is just one of the many reasons why we and so many others love the Spaniard so much.
The former Chelsea man is an absolute joy to watch when on top form, and though he has not always been at his best this season he certainly shone on Tuesday night as United rounded off their Champions League group stage with victory over CSKA.
Here are seven reasons why he is just so lovable.
Ok, so you all know why we are here. Tuesday night got us all a little bit weak at the knees watching Mata waltz about the Old Trafford turf as if he was the only man on it.
The slippery little Spaniard took out at least five CSKA players with this perfectly executed give-and-go and some sumptuous footwork. Here it is in all its deserved slow-motion glory.
— ★ #TeamOfTheYear ★ (@ChampionsLeague) December 5, 2017
If you didn’t know already, Mata owns a tapas bar in the centre of Manchester, which is cool enough on its own, but it also of course qualifies him to compare his team-mates to various dishes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is likened to a sirloin steak, Daley Blind to churros and David De Gea is best described as a fried squid, apparently.
Let’s be serious for a second, shall we. Away from the pitch, aside from eating tapas, Mata is driving his Common Goal charity, which continues to build pace.
The charity fund is asking for footballers to pledge 1% of their wages to a collective fund which goes to football charities around the globe.
Alongside Mata on the initiative are Mats Hummels, Giorgio Chiellini and Shinji Kagawa to name just a few.
English players Charlie Daniels, Alfie Mawson and Duncan Watmore are members, while recently-appointed UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has also joined the cause.
Such is his will to communicate with supporters and share his love and insight into the game, Mata shares regular blog posts on his website.
Here’s his latest one, where he talks about a big week for United.
Hi! Here is my latest post. One Hour Behind: 'Champions and derby in a crucial week'. https://t.co/L16Fi88CKX
— Juan Mata García (@juanmata8) December 4, 2017
Moving to Chelsea from Valencia in 2011, Mata was a key player for Chelsea in their cup-double winning season, the Spaniard claiming an assist in the Champions League final.
One year later, he assisted Branislav Ivanovic’s winner in the Europa League final, but even that didn’t convince inbound manager Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho arrived back at Stamford Bridge and sidelined Mata, regularly leaving him on the bench before his eventual sale to United in January 2014.
Now reunited, and after reports of tensions, the tricky left-footer is a mainstay of the United side, consistently putting in excellent displays and coming up with the goods.
Are you even human if you don’t fancy him just a little bit?
— Juan Mata García (@juanmata8) November 30, 2017
We’re not really sure how he manages to find the time to be so good at football, run a tapas bar (and regularly be eating there if reports are true), run a charity and still do so much.
To delve into his life (and you should want to, it’s brilliant), follow him on Instagram. Here’s an example of the great content on offer.
Iniesta showing us he’s still got it.
Two world-class stops.
Was Kyle Walker your man of the match?
It’s nine years since he played for United.
Tevez & Mascherano’s arrival was a lot of fun.
Chris Hughton tells us about pressure at the top.
Watch out for CR7.
Lee Bowyer is now Charlton’s caretaker.
Also featuring Diego Costa being nice.