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Juan Mata hopes Paul Pogba will join him in staying at Manchester United

Frenchman's future has been subject of intense speculation after admitting he is open to new challenge

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata, third left, hopes teammate Paul Pogba, back right, will extend his stay with the club. EPA
Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata, third left, hopes teammate Paul Pogba, back right, will extend his stay with the club. EPA

Juan Mata hopes influential midfielder Paul Pogba will remain at Manchester United despite strong interest from around Europe.

Three years after returning to Old Trafford in what was a world-record £89 million deal, the 26-year-old Frenchman has publicly admitted he is open to "a new challenge somewhere else".

Those comments sent tongues wagging, as did agent Mino Raiola speaking about his client's desire to leave amid interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus.

But Pogba has knuckled down during United's pre-season tour and was in good spirits at an adidas event held in Singapore's Marina Bay on Sunday.

The World Cup winner clearly enjoyed himself and told the crowd that any aspiring footballers looking to reach the top should take a leaf out of Mata's book - and the admiration is clearly mutual for a player the Spaniard would love to stay.

"We all know Paul and he's a fantastic midfielder and he's a very good guy, very positive, good influence for everyone," Mata said.

"I think he's happy, he brings everyone together.

"But I cannot speak for other people. I cannot speak for myself, for my present and my future in the club.

"And obviously as a teammate, and as a friend also, I would like him to stay and to be happy because he is a very good player for us, but I cannot say much else."

Pogba is not the only United player whose future is under scrutiny, but there is no doubt about where Mata's future lies.

The 31-year-old was out of contract at the end of the 2018/19 season and talks over an extension had long been at an impasse, but a deal was struck to extend his stay with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side until at least 2021.

"There were some options to go to a different club, but I said it before the feeling of being a Manchester United player is so unique," Mata said.

"I am very happy to stay here. I am dreaming about winning big trophies at this club.

"I cannot wait to win a big trophy and celebrate with all the fans because they deserve it.

"I am very happy to extend my time in Manchester. I am very happy in the city, so it is all great and I am proud to be a player of this club."

David de Gea appears poised to sign a new, long-term deal, which would be a welcome shot in the arm on a personal and collective level for Mata, who has already seen one compatriot depart this summer after Ander Herrera left for Paris Saint-Germain.

"Obviously David is the best or one of the best goalkeepers in the world for sure," Mata added.

"He is one of my best friends, so I want him to stay.

"On a professional level, it will be great for us if he stays because he will give us many points over the next seasons. I am very happy if he stays.

"Obviously Ander is a good friend also, I am sad to see him leave but as a friend I wish him the best and I hope he is happy in Paris now."

Manchester United continue their pre-season preparations on Thursday when they face fellow Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in the International Champions Cup in Shanghai.

Updated: July 22, 2019 12:18 PM