If you believe everything you read in the papers, Juan Mata will be leaving Chelsea in the January window, and in the summer, for a fee between £20 million and £40 million. His final destination? Any one of Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Paris Saint Germain or Atletico Madrid (rumours from a variety of sources.) The reason he is apparently leaving? Jose Mourinho keeps leaving him on the bench, even though he is the best player in the Chelsea squad.
Except, this season, he isn’t.
It is not for no reason that Mata was voted as the Chelsea fans’ Player of the Year for two years running. In 2011 he became the first signing of the transition era at Stamford Bridge, as the owner looked to transform his team of tough title winners into tiki-taka masters.
The flair Mata exhibited in his debut season reminded many fans of Gianfranco Zola, a player who is still universally adored at Chelsea. They took him to their hearts and he responded in kind, picking up a Champions League winner’s medal for his troubles.
He was joined by two of the players who are keeping him out of the side at the moment, Eden Hazard and Oscar, and the trio formed a formidable partnership that was one of the only stable good points in a season that left a bitter taste in many fans’ mouths.
Mata was better than his other amigos last season. The team looked flat without him, and he made 64 appearances as he carried them to another European title.