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The Spaniard, who joined Manchester United in a £37.1m deal, played down suggestions of a rift with the Chelsea manager and says he learnt important lessons

Manchester United new-boy Juan Mata has refused to criticise former boss Jose Mourinho and says his exile under the Portuguese made him a better player.

The Spain international struggled for games following Mourinho's return to Chelsea, completing 90 minutes just twice in the Premier League as the 51-year-old challenged him to adapt to a new style of play.

Despite a frustrating few months predominantly spent on the bench, Mata felt he learnt important lessons from his short spell under Mourinho and never begrudged the decision to drop him.

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“Thanks to every manager I have had the pleasure to work with during my time here. They have all been a big help for my progression as a player,” said the former Valencia playmaker in an open letter to Chelsea fans.

“I have always respected their decisions, whatever they were; they made me more mature and a stronger person.

“[Thank you] to Jose, for making me a stronger player, because in difficult moments, I have learnt to remain positive and to keep working hard.”

Mata, though, did admit that his axe from the first team had been a difficult period in his life and has envisioned a long stay at Stamford Bridge until losing his place in the side.

“ I have experienced some complicated situations from a personal point of view, mainly during the last six months,” he continued.

“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. This is how happy I was in the club and in the city.

“However, as you all know, 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.”

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