- Premier League
Mata intended 'long' Chelsea stay
Juan Mata has admitted he had intended to stay at Chelsea for a "long time" before completing his £37.1 million move to Manchester United.
In an open letter thanking Chelsea fans for their support during his two and a half years at the club that was posted on his personal website, Mata insists he had no choice but to leave the club in search of first-team football.
A press conference is scheduled for Monday, where Mata will be presented as a United player, after he passed his medical on Saturday.
"Before last summer, my intention was to stay here for a long time; as long as the club wanted me to, and to keep winning trophies for Chelsea FC," wrote Mata. "This is how happy I was in the club and in the city.
"Things changed after the pre-season. From feeling like an important player, I started to experience some difficult situations and I felt unable to help the team to the extent that I wanted and was used to. Obviously, I fully respect the circumstances. Football is a team sport and it's not easy to play regularly in such a good squad.
"I will never forget all the affection given to me by the Chelsea fans. From the very first day until the last. I will always feel the gratitude towards you. Always.
"There has been plenty of good moments: the FA Cup, my first trophy as a Blue; the immense happiness of winning titles for the first time in the club's history, such as that magical Champions League night in Munich and the Europa League.
"On the other hand, I have experienced some complicated situations from a personal point of view, mainly during the last six months. Every message I got through the social media, every nice word you have said to me on the street, and of course, your support in the stadium, has made me feel incredibly proud of the Chelsea fans.
"I won't forget the faith you put in me when I was given the player of the year award the last two seasons. I feel really proud and I will never forget those nights. Thank you so much for the way you have treated me, you have been unbelievable. I hope you understand that after going through a complicated and, for me, new situation in the last few months, I believe this is the best choice in order to carry on with my football career and to keep enjoying this sport.
"I thank all my former team mates and I wish them the best. My years in Chelsea have left me with great friends. Friends forever, football rivalries aside."
Mata also thanked Andre Villas-Boas for bringing him to the club, and insisted he felt no ill will towards Jose Mourinho for not playing him regularly this season.
"Thank you Andre for giving me the opportunity to join Chelsea FC," he added. "Without your support, none of this would have happened. To Robbie [Di Matteo] and Rafa [Benitez], for their unlimited trust in me. And to Jose, for making me a stronger player, because in difficult moments, I have learnt to remain positive and to keep working hard.
"I want to thank the Club, and in particular its owner, Roman Abramovich, for trusting me and making an important investment when signing me. Also for their understanding regarding my situation over the last months. I'm very glad to have been part of the squad that made his and our dream come true: winning the Champions League on that unforgettable night in Munich.
"I would have liked to say good bye to all of you in the stadium, or in a press conference, but it has not been possible. I'm sure, I will be able to do it in the future, because is what you deserve.
"I will never forget my time in Chelsea and the affection I take with me, I will keep forever."