Juan Mata has urged team-mate Memphis Depay to continue improving in order to fulfil his potential at Manchester United.
Depay has made an encouraging start to life at Old Trafford, scoring against Club Brugge and old club PSV in the Champions League so far this season, though he was hauled off at half-time in the Premier League win over Liverpool.
Mata has no doubt that the Netherlands international has the talent to succeed at United, but he says Depay is aware he must sustain his hard work.
“He’s very talented, everyone can see that,” Mata told the club’s official website.
“He is still young so he has to take things step by step, but I think he will do great. He’s quick, he shoots on goal with both feet and he’s intelligent. He’s a great player, but he knows that he has to keep improving and keep going.”
Mata has been deployed on the right of United’s attack so far this season and, despite admitting he is far from an orthodox winger, the Spain international says he relishes the role.
“You must not fall asleep and take your position for granted. The competition helps us a lot,” he said. “I think I can play in every position offensively in the team and I think that’s good for me to grow as a player.
“Obviously I am not a winger, if you imagine an old-school winger who is trying to play one-against-one and to cross the ball. I try to find my spaces from the right and cut inside and in behind, and try to assist my team-mates. I really enjoy it there.
“I think it’s very important for us to create little triangles on the wings with myself and Matteo [Darmian] and then with the midfield. That’s what the manager wants and we can play inside and outside.”
Mata has also praised captain Wayne Rooney for his role in the team, despite England’s all-time top scorer having struggled for domestic goals in 2015-16.
“Obviously it’s easy when you have players like him there,” Mata added. “He is moving all the time and trying to make a line for your pass.
“I was very happy for him after his three goals against Club Brugge, but he’s not a striker that just scores, he does a lot of work for the team offensively and also to protect the ball.”