Juan Mata really shone during his time at Stamford Bridge and after 14 assists and six goals in his first season with the club, he went on to score 33 and provide 58 assists in his 135 appearances over two-and-a-half seasons with Chelsea.
He was signed by then Blues boss Andre Villas Boas, but it was really under Roberto Di Matteo and Rafa Benitez that the Spaniard really flourished. However, from the moment Jose Mourinho arrived back for his second spell in charge of the club, Mata was seen as an outcast by the Portuguese manager. That view led to Mata being sold off to Manchester United in a move that Mourinho obviously didn’t feel would threaten his own side. That decision warranted much criticism due to the fact that the diminutive playmaker was largely Chelsea’s best performer during his time with the club, but then immediately cast out by ‘The Special One’.
We all know by now that Mourinho isn’t a manager who makes rash decisions. He didn’t see Mata fitting into his plans and so he let him go – as simple as that, no hard feelings.
Mata’s move to Old Trafford has not been as successful as his move to Chelsea was, and the Spanish international has far from flourished with United during a tough period in the club’s recent history. He has at times been the best of a bad bunch, but especially recently with the influx of new attacking options, it seems though he is both out of form and out of place. He is still only 26-years-old and so a few years off his peak, yet his passion appears to have diminished slightly, surely Mourinho’s treatment didn’t knock his confidence that drastically?
Juan has started seven of The Red Devils’ opening 10 Premier League games this season but thus far has yet to find his feet in a system which is openly still being worked out by Louis van Gaal. He’s at a club who currently aren’t performing anywhere near where they want to be, in say a few years time. However offensively the side is full of fantastic talent and he is certainly included in that group.
Mata is not far from being back to his best, but it seems he’s missing the mentality that is necessary to flourish in the current United squad. Maybe he’s feeling like he’s on the verge of obscurity like a repeat of his time at Chelsea.
Meanwhile in West London, Mourinho’s summer signings are flying and The Blues have a new midfield talisman who’s creating an incredible amount of assists and chipping in with a few goals here and there – sound familiar? Cesc Fabregas has more than taken on Mata’s baton at Chelsea and has single-handedly proved that Jose Mourinho was right, as he so regularly is.
The old Chelsea may well have been better with Mata but the new one doesn’t need him and Mourinho knew that was going to be the case. Mourinho got plenty of stick for his treatment of Mata and then his ultimate departure, but he was absolutely right. Yet again.