Mata targets the J.League title after joining Vissel Kobe

Former Manchester United and Spain midfielder Juan Mata set his sights on winning the J-League title on Sunday after joining Andres Iniesta’s former Japanese club Vissel Kobe.

Mata, who won the World Cup with Spain in 2010, joined Kobe after leaving Galatasaray during the summer.

Iniesta left Kobe in July after five years, after joining from Barcelona in 2018.

Iniesta failed to lead Vissel’s side to their first J. League title during his time in Japan, but Mata immediately targeted silverware after being scouted by the club.

“With the aim of winning the first league title for Vissel Kobe, I will do my best to help the team win this cup,” the 35-year-old told reporters.

“I’m putting together another title in my career, which I hope will be the first of many titles in Japan,” he added.

Vissel, who will play later on Sunday, is second in the J-League, one point behind defending champions Yokohama F-Marinos, with less than 10 matches left to play in the season.

Iniesta won the domestic Emperor’s Cup for Japan in 2019 and led Vissel to the AFC Champions League semi-finals a year later.

David Villa, former World Cup-winning teammate of Iniesta and Mata, also played for Kobe for one season in 2019.

Mata said he had heard good things about the club from the pair.

“I feel really proud to sign with Vissel Kobe, a club where great players and my great friends, Andres Iniesta and David Villa, have played,” he said.

“I am very proud to be following in their footsteps in this country.”

Mata made his name with Valencia, winning the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 before joining Manchester United two years later.

He was without a club after leaving Galatasaray.


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