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‘I am thrilled’ – Manchester United favourite Juan Mata announces Manchester return with a twist

Juan Mata, a Manchester United fan, will return to his hometown this summer as part of the Manchester International Festival.

Juan Mata has stated that he will return to Manchester this summer, but this time he will curate an exhibition on football rather than play. The 34-year-old left Manchester United after an eight-year stint a year ago and will return as part of this year’s Manchester International Festival.

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Mata, who was noted for his artistic abilities on the field, will co-curate an exhibition about the beautiful game with Berlin-based artist Hans Ulrich Obrist.

The exhibition ‘The Trequartista – Art and Football Together’ will bring together 11 contemporary artists and 11 footballers to create new works inspired by Trequartista, a legendary position and style of football that is fast becoming extinct.

“It’s amazing to be back in Manchester, the city I’ve called home for more than eight years, and to be a part of the Manchester International Festival for the first time,” Mata said of the two-year initiative.

“I am happy to be co-curating ‘The Trequartista – Art and Football Together’ with Hans Ulrich Obrist over the next two years, combining two of my passions: football and art.”

The exhibition was created by writer Josh Willdigg, and 11 teams of players and artists would collaborate over the course of two years, culminating in a collective show at the 2025 Manchester International Festival. The project begins this year’s festival with the world premiere of This item a new work by artist Tino Sehgal, created with Mata’s assistance and shown at the National Football Museum and the Whitworth.

Sehgal is most known for his artworks that are entirely formed of the human body, voice, and social interaction. His work has been shown at some of the world’s most prestigious art institutions, including New York’s Guggenheim and London’s Tate Modern. His contribution to Mata and Obrist’s joint art production is defined as a “playful choreographic interchange” between a footballer, musician, cyclist, and singing dancer.

Trequartista means ‘three quarters’ in Italian and refers to a football playmaker who operates behind the front line but in front of the midfield.

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