Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he wants Juan Mata to stay at Manchester United and is hopeful the club can agree a deal for him to extend his stay at Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he has made it clear to Juan Mata that he wants him to remain a Manchester United player, and revealed he is hopeful the midfielder will sign a new deal.

Mata’s contract expires at the end of the season and with the 31-year-old yet to agree an extension, he is free to discuss a move to other sides.

Reports earlier this week suggested United have made a final offer to the Spaniard in an attempt to keep him at the club, and Solskjaer told Sky Sports: “He’s a fantastic person and a fantastic player.

“It’s up to him. I’ve had words with him and he knows how highly I regard him.

“I was so pleased for him last week; it would have been so much nicer for him to sit there and talk about Juan scoring the winning goal against Chelsea.

“He’s a top pro and let’s see if they manage to agree.”

Solskjaer also had praise for Mata’s compatriot David de Gea, who has faced criticism in recent weeks for a number of high-profile errors.

De Gea’s latest mistake gifted Marcos Alonso a goal, and Chelsea a point, in the critical top-four clash at Old Trafford last weekend, but Solskjaer backed him to overcome his troubles.

He said: “I think David is a fantastic keeper. He’s mentally strong. Of course he’s been in the papers the last few weeks, but that happens.

“He’s determined to prove himself to me and to the supporters. We support him.

“He’s one of the top keepers in the world – for me, the best. He’s gone through a little patch now that everyone will go through.”

In addition, Solskjaer shed further light on United’s pursuit of a sporting director. Sky Sports reports they have spoken to Rio Ferdinand about the role, and retain an interest in RB Leipzig’s head of recruitment Paul Mitchell.

In his press conference on Friday, ahead of their penultimate game of the season against Huddersfield the manager insisted he would have the final say on transfers even if a sporting director is appointed.

He added: “We’re having regular meetings. I think the club is on the right track and we’ll probably announce something soon.”

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