Valencia CF's Juan Mata has signed a new contract keeping him at the Mestalla until June 2014 – and immediately declared his next target was to win the UEFA Champions League.
The Spanish international attacking midfielder put pen to paper on a two-year extension to his existing deal in front of hundreds of fans at Denia Town Hall, near Alicante. It was a reception, he said, he could never have imagined when he joined Valencia from Real Madrid CF's youth ranks in 2007.
"I didn't expect anything like this to be honest, I will never forget it,"
said the 22-year-old Mata, who was part of Spain's FIFA World Cup-winning squad. "I came here at quite a young age and just over three years later I am experiencing a celebration like this in front of so many people."
After the departures last summer of David Villa and David Silva, for FC Barcelona and Manchester City FC respectively, Valencia's supporters turned to former UEFA European Under-19 Championship winner Mata as their talisman, and his signature will boost all connected with the east-coast club.
"It took a while to get the deal done but I knew we would reach an agreement because both parties wanted it to happen. I never had any doubts during negotiations," continued a player with 42 goals from 146 appearances in all competitions for the Ché.
Ever-present for Unai Emery's side during this season's UEFA Champions League group stage, Mata now has his sights on the round of 16 tie with FC Schalke 04, at home on 15 February and in Germany on 9 March.
"I realise it's going to be difficult but I want to win the Champions League with Valencia," he said. "We are in the knockout stages and realise we are in for a tricky time against Schalke."
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