Juan Mata and Jose Mourinho’s love affair is, well, not a love affair. They’re more like a bitter, middle-aged couple who have grown to hate each other through years of grudges and touch relationships with the in-laws.
After the episode that saw Mourinho push Mata towards the door at Chelsea, their must be a little tension between the £37million attacking midfielder and the new Manchester United gaffer. Signings of Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have seen yet more question marks around Mata’s future and it looks, whatever is said to the press, like his days are numbered at Old Trafford.
With teams readying their over-priced end of window bids already, Mata is pretty likely to be subject to an extortionate offer before the end of August. Clubs know his quality and, as limited as he is, he would walk in to the majority of Premier League line-ups.
Which clubs should prioritise a move for Mata?
Everton’s forays into the transfer market this summer have had mixed success. Attempts to sign several big name stars fell through, before securing two intriguing additions in Ashley Williams and Yannick Bolasie.
Ronald Koeman’s side will likely be almost unrecognisable from Martinez’s Everton. The team will be tighter defensively and have a clearer plan when in possession. The role of Ross Barkley is likely to develop and there is no reason that Mata could not play with the powerful youngster. Mata could fulfil a similar role to Dusan Tadic at Southampton, creating from the wing and drifting centrally to find the perfect through ball.
As the Toffees look to make their mark, Mata would be a brilliant marquee signing.
Having lost Paul Pogba this summer, Juventus have invested shrewdly. Miralem Pjanic, Mehdi Benatia, Dani Alves and Gonzalo Higuain have capped the most remarkable summer of spending from the Old Lady, yet there is probably room for one more.
Mata would be another significant outlay for Juve, but his creative spark might make the difference in Europe. Although he would be unlikely to start many games under Allegri, Mata would give Juventus another dimension. Not to mention the prospect of his threaded through balls to the intelligent runs of Gonzalo Higuain.
Antonio Conte, like Jose Mourinho, probably does not see Juan Mata as his type of player. However, as was evident in their opening day clash with West Ham, there will be occasions when Chelsea need an orchestrator in the final third.
The blood and thunder approach of Conte’s sides would leave Mata isolated and disjointed from the attack, but he would certainly have some use at his former club. When facing a low block, Chelsea are going to need a player who can open up a defence with something more than dribbling or off-the-ball runs and, perhaps, Mata could be the man to open the door for Diego Costa or Michy Batshuayi.
During Mata’s golden 2012/13 campaign with Chelsea, he averaged 2.8 key passes per league game with Chelsea and those sort of numbers would come in handy for the Blues this season.