Chelsea transfers: Three reasons why Juan Mata should stay at the Blues
Chelsea transfers: Harry Kemble takes a look at three reasons why Juan Mata should remain at the Blues
Feared by the opposition; revered by fans
Incredibly, it seems, that Juan Mata is facing the exit door at Chelsea. The Spanish playmaker could be on the move to either Arsenal, Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur even though he has been instrumental for Chelsea since arriving in 2011. His performances were particular noteworthy last term when the managerial merry-go-round was in full swing at Stamford Bridge. The diminutive Mata was Chelsea’s attacking heartbeat, playing 70 matches and scoring 22 goals. In the seven times he has played against Manchester United, the 25-year-old has netted four times. His record speaks for itself and it is little wonder he often leaves opposition defenders in his wake – much to the glee of Blues’ supporters. Yet Jose Mourinho appears not to be a fan; Mata has only played 65 minutes thus far this season and was overlooked against David Moyes’ side on Monday. Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Andre Schurrle were picked instead.
Mourinho frequently lavished Hazard with praise in pre-season, saying he was “a top talent”. But significantly – and worryingly for Mata’s future – the Portuguese has made Hazard his protege: “I’m ready to help him, I’m ready to work with him and he must be ready too,” he said. However, Hazard has failed to deliver so far this campaign but has started all three of Chelsea’s fixtures. He has been blighted by the kind of inconsistency that affects all young starlets in the formative stages of their career. Of course, there is no reason why he cannot turn it around with the season only just begun, but it is hard to see why Mata is not preferred when he is pratically the finished article. Furthermore last season the two combined brilliantly week in, week out for Chelsea, grinding out results on the pitch, despite the turmoil off it, in the terraces, with fans directing vitriol at interim manager Rafael Benítez. Hardly a winning environment for any team.
Test of character
It is rare for a player to go through his whole career without at least one manager having doubts about his ability at the top level. Mata is clearly facing this predicament right now. Tottenham’s Michael Dawson is a good example of a player, who had to work hard to reverse the mindset of his manager, Andre Villas-Boas last season. The Spurs boss tried to sell Dawson to Queens Park Rangers in a £9m deal before backtracking spectacularly and taking him off the transfer list. The former Nottingham Forest defender is now one of Spurs’ key defensive components after working his way back into his boss’ plans. Mata, much to the amazement of Chelsea supporters, will clearly have to do the same. Mourinho has already highlighted the pressures that face his team in the coming months. In September, the Blues begin their Champions League and League Cup campaigns in earnest, play three league matches, and the players will also go off to play for their countries. If Mata does stay in west London, September represents the perfect opportunity to give his manager a reminder of his own obvious talents.