Manchester United must play Champions League next season: Juan Mata

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London, Jan 28: Midfielder Juan Mata Wednesday urged his team Manchester United to step up their bid for a top four place, admitting it is hard watching their rivals play in the Champions League this season while Louis van Gaal's side are excluded from Europe's elite competition.

Mata, 26, moved to Old Trafford from Chelsea in a 37.1 million pounds deal a year ago this week but was unable to help his new club finish any higher than seventh after their disappointing season under David Moyes.

Man United must play Champions League next season: Juan Mata

It meant that United missed out on Champions League football for the first time in 19 years, and their place in the top four is once again under threat from a chasing pack after only two wins from their last six league games.

Mata warned that Van Gaal's side are entering a decisive stage of the season as they prepare to meet bottom club Leicester City at Old Trafford Saturday, and must go on a winning streak to avoid another season of frustration.

"It's difficult watching the games on TV every Tuesday and Wednesday. It's the thought that we all have in our minds that we need to be back in the Champions League," the Spaniard was quoted as saying by dailymail.co.uk.

"It's the most attractive competition in the world - we need to be there again. This is our main objective for this season, to play Champions League football again because I think this club should always play in the Champions League.

IANS

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