'Used to watch them at Chelsea': Daniel James says he looked up to former Blues duo

Manchester United winger Daniel James has named former Chelsea duo Juan Mata and Eden Hazard as the players he looked up to.

The 22-year-old has established himself as one of the brightest prospects in the Premier League after joining Manchester United last summer.

As an attacker, unsurprisingly, James kept a close eye on arguably Chelsea’s best attacking duo in the last decade: Mata and Hazard.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

He told MUTV: “There are a few players that obviously come to mind. I think, growing up, I always liked Juan [Mata].

“It’s a weird one because, when I first signed for United, meeting him, he’s such a great guy and it was surreal for me to meet him.

“He was playing for Chelsea in those days when I was watching. Him and [Eden] Hazard together, I always looked up to them two.”

(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

The former Chelsea attacking pair played together for 18 months from 2012 to 2014, when the Spaniard shockingly joined Manchester United.

With those two, Chelsea rarely had a problem with creativity, although unfortunately the Europa League was the only silverware the pair won together.

But the 44 goal involvements between them in the Premier League in 2013/14 (Mata had 12 goals and 12 assists, Hazard had nine goals and 11 assists) was a good record.

James now plays alongside Mata at Manchester United and he could not find a better role model to learn from.

Alongside Mata and Hazard, James also mentioned Ryan Giggs, who now manages him for the Welsh national team, and Thierry Henry as his inspirations growing up.

A Chelsea fan who loves football statistics. Studied sports journalism at the University of Sunderland.