What’s the Mata, Jose?
Chelsea fans were pretty upset when the sale of Juan Mata took place over the weekend.
The Spanish superstar had scored 33 goals in 135 appearances for the Blues in his two and half year stay at the Bridge, but only found the net once this season as Mourinho thought Mata didn’t fit in his attacking midfield system.
But despite Chelsea making a profit of £13.5 million on the attacking midfielder, could this be one of The Special One’s biggest mistakes in his Chelsea career?
Mata won Chelsea’s Player of The Season award in 2012 and 2013, and was regarded as a fan favorite. His energy levels, consistent work rate, his creativity and goal scoring ability helped Chelsea win two European trophies in two years. So why would Mourinho make a statement in dropping the talented 25 year old?
The answer is rational thinking and unnecessary purchases. Despite winning two league titles in his first spell with the club, Mourinho was criticized for not winning the titles with any style. The 1-0 or 2-0 victories with the 6-7 defensive players on the pitch at the end of the 90 minutes were picked up by pundits, which criticized the Portuguese manager as they said he lacked style and creativity in his attacking options.
The criticism has obviously stayed with Mourinho as he is now spoilt for choice with his attacking midfield options. Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Kevin de Bruyne, Juan Mata, Andre Schürrle and Marko van Ginkel were all Mourinho’s creative options in the summer. Six months on and Mourinho has now got Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Marko van Ginkel, Andre Schürrle, Mohamed Salah, Nemanja Matić and Gael Kakuta to his disposal to help Samuel Eto’o, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres bang in the goals. But despite have two more players in his squad, to me this creativity is weakened without the presence of Mata.
Eden Hazard and Oscar are obviously the two first players who would put in your team, but Willian and Andre Schürrle have failed to live up to expectations so far this season, and yet Mata got the short straw. Schürrle’s performances have been nothing but average so far this campaign and the purchase of Willian was something of a rational purchase to annoy London rivals Tottenham, who were very close in buying the Brazilian. But the thing that I don’t understand is: Mata and Willian are the same age but when you look at goals to appearances in their club careers so far, Mata has scored 89 goals in 348 appearances whilst Willian has scored 42 goals 298 appearances with both players making their professional club debuts in the same year (2006). And even though Willian’s record is very impressive, surely you would play the player who has a better goal to game ratio if you want to win the championship?
Gael Kakuta is a player that Chelsea should just sell as he has no future at the club, whilst the signings of Mo Salah and Nemanja Matić are questionable. If Chelsea knew that Matić was going to become a big star, why did they make him bait in the David Luiz move back in 2011? Surely they could have used Kakuta in the deal as the Frenchman is nothing but a forgotten man at the Bridge.
Despite scoring against Chelsea in September, Salah has got a lot to prove. The 21 year old scored 20 goals in 78 appearances for Basel in a year and a half, but the Swiss league is microscopic compared to the Premier League, so the Egyptian might have a shock to the system when he does play for the Blues.
The last four months of the league season will be very interesting for Chelsea, as they will battle it out with Arsenal and Manchester City for top spot in the league. I still think that the sale of Mata to Manchester United has done nothing but decrease moral, caused tension between Mourinho and the fans and put Mourinho under unnecessary pressure to deliver because if he doesn’t, the signings (the attacking ones) and selling Mata will be a huge factor of Chelsea underachieving. And I truly believe if Mata were to have started the majority of Chelsea’s games this season, they would be top of the table as his creativity, in addition with Hazard’s and Oscar’s, is yards ahead of any other Chelsea attacking midfielder.