Despite being Chelsea’s player of the year for the previous two seasons Juan Mata has seen his place in the Blues starting line-up limited this term. He has started only 12 times out of 26 in both the Premier League and Champions League, with some commentators even suggesting an Iberian-based biased against Mata from the Portuguese Jose Mourinho. Having played only a full 90 minutes on three occasions this season, his angry reaction to being substituted away to Southampton sent out clear signals to the top teams in Europe.
Mourinho has seemed to prefer Oscar in the role that Mata played so well for two years in a row and has even suggested that the number 10 needs to play for the team instead of himself.
Mata signed from Valencia for £23.5 million in 2011 and set the Premier League alight. He netted on both his league and Champions League débuts, coming off the bench to cement victory against Norwich City and then doing the same to Bayer Leverkusen. Chelsea won the FA Cup in the Spaniard’s first season at the club and Mata picked up the man-of-the-match award. His assist for Drogba in the Champions League final in 2012 brought the game to extra-time where Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich.
For a player of Mata’s ability not to be accommodated into the Chelsea side belies belief. The World Cup and European Championship winner with his native Spain could make a return to Real Madrid where he starred in the youth academy before leaving for Valencia. With reports suggesting that Chelsea have made bids for Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuaín, if the €50 million offer is eventually accepted for the Argentine striker, the Blues might look to recoup some money by selling on Mata. Especially as the club announced a loss of £49.4 million in 2013. With Xabi Alonso looking like he may be on the way out of the Bernabeu, Juan Mata would make the perfect replacement. Alonso has not committed his future to Madrid and has not ruled out a return to Merseyside where he helped Liverpool win the Champions League in 2005.
With his arch rival Rafael Benitez’s Napoli also reported to be in the running to sign Mata from Chelsea, the Special One would surely prefer to see the Spaniard leave for an Italian club rather than go to a Premier League competitor. Arsenal and Manchester United are the English teams reported to be interested in signing the playmaker.